Skip to main content

Full text of "Six seconds of darkness"

See other formats


Google 



This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on Hbrary shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http : //books . google . com/| 



COHEN 



vrv/-r 



T 






ik 




/■", 



1^ 



v*N ^ V 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 



SIX SECONDS 
OF DARKNESS 



BY 



OCTAVUS ROY COHEN 




GROSSET & DUNLAP 

PUBLISHERS NEW YORK 



IMibdw 



UoMSMkiif 



9151511 






OOPTXIOHT, 1918, 

Bt dodd. kbad and COMPANT. Iva 



PRIKTED IK THB U. S. A. 



4* 



TO MY FRIEND 

ROBERT H. DAVIS 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 



»»»• , • 



SIX SECONDS OF 
DARKNESS 

CHAPTER I 

THE old-timer at the telephone 
board made a casual entry on the 
report sheet spread before him, 

relighted his offensively fragrant pipe, 
and swung his swivel chair around idly. 

"That was O'Rafferty on nine/' he re- 
ported. "AlFs quiet.'' 

Desk Sergeant Larry O'Brien grinned 
cheerfully through the haze of rancid 
smoke. 

As I was afther sayin'," he remarked, 
ye cannot always sometimes tell. 'Tis 
these clear and aisy nights which beget ac- 
tion for us poor coppers. Ye wouldn't be 
afther thinkin' by the quietude which has 
gripped us hereabouts these past sivin 



€€ 



2 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

days that there's a bombshell sizzlin' un- 
der headquarters waitin' to be busted/' 

The other answered sagely : 

"That all depends on how much 
you've been talking to reporters, Larry. 
They've been asking so many questions 
and taking so many notes that I'm afraid 
to say me name's Farris. They're wise 
that something's up." 

"Bad cess to 'em — the whole beloved 
lot. There's Stinson of the News^ — ^him 
that's so thin he could sit on a dime an' 
ye'd shtill be able to read In God We 
Trust' — ^he wanted to know was / in on the 
graft?" 

"And you told him " 

"I'm afther givin' nothin' away, me 
bhye. I merely raymarked that I'm no 
special pals with Barret Rollins, an' that 
Police Commissioner Clement Hall ap- 
p'inted me personally." 

Farris lowered his voice discreetly and 
hitched his chair confidentially closer. 



•• • • 

* m 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 3 

'They're wise, ain*t they? The whole 
crowd?'' 

"To pwhat?" 

"That Rollins is in the middle of the 
fireworks ? That Hamilton's been trying 
to get him ever since Hall became inter- 
ested in this Civic Reform League? I 
don't see," he complained, "why they al- 
ways start in on the police when they de- 
cide a city needs cleanin' up?" 

*T»ogic, most likely. And as for Rob- 
bins, he don't be afther lovin' Commis- 
sioner Hall nor Mister Edward J. Hamil- 
ton anny more than they're lovin' him; 
which is considerable less than none at all. 
An' he's a good detictive, too; he's keen, 
an' he's got a good head on a pair of hefty 
shoulders. But, Al, me bhye, Oi'm think- 
in' Oi'd rather be a disk sergeant right this 
minute than Mister Barret Rollins, chief 
av detictives. An' — ^well, speakin' av an- 
gels—or divils- 



The street door swung back and a man 



4 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

of medium height briefly acknowledged 
the salute of the gray-haired doomian. 
.The newcomer swung across to the desk 
and nodded a curt greeting. 

"O'Brien/' he said, 'liow goes it?" 
"So-so, chief. How's the bhye?' 
'*Well enough. Anything new to- 
night?" 

"Everything's dead. Nothing stirring 
anywhere except a stiff was drug out av 
the river an' carried to Carson's undertak- 
ing joint. What's new with you?" 

"Nothing, nothing at all. I'll be going 
into the office yonder for a smoke and a bit 

of a snooze. If you want me '' He 

waved his hand airily. 

O'Brien's eyes followed the man with 
interest as he walked across the room to- 
ward the little door which opened into his 
private office. Barrett Rollins radiated 
strength and physical ability in every well- 
knit line of his stocky figure. His un- 
usual breadth and depth of chest conveyed 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 5 

an impression of lack of height to which a 
tape measure easily gave the lie. Nor was 
his face that of the average plain-clothes 
man; the eyes were a bit too close set, per- 
haps, but they were level eyes — eyes 
blessed with the rare faculty of penetra- 
tion. The brain behind those eyes was 
alert and ruthless. 

He had worked himself to his present 
position as chief of the plain-clothes force 
by dint of sheer ability. A little political 
pull may have helped here and there, but 
that assistance had been inconsiderable. 
He was an efficient man, greatest testi- 
mony to which was given by the unani- 
mous praise of his worst enemies — who, by 
the way, numbered legion. He was a 
martinet; unbending, inexorable, heart- 
less. His third degree was a classic. 

Larry O'Brien chuckled softly as he 
chewed the stub of a dilapidated cigar. 

"And to think of him^^' he remarked, 
*1)ein' squeezed between th' thumb an* 



6 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

forefinger of a little, undersized runt of a 
reformer like Edward Hamilton. Hamil- 
ton's said he's ready to turn things loose 
an' tear 'em up, an' he never makes a state- 
ment unless '' 

The telephone on his desk jangled 
sharply. Farris groaned audibly as he 
lifted himself from the depths of his swivel 
chair and the sergeant motioned him back 
to rest. 

"Oi'U be afther answerin' it mesilf,*' 
he said, and then, lifting the receiver: 
"P'lice headquarters." 

From the other end of the wire came the 
curt, incisive tones of Police Commissioner 
Clement Hall, the real czar of the depart- 
ment under the city's new form of govern- 
ment. 

'Sergeant O'Brien?^ 

Yis, sor. Misther Hall, isn't it? 

"Yes. Is Rollins there?" 

"Yis, sor." 

".Tell him to take two of his best men, 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 7 

Hawkins and Cartwright, if they're there, 
and hustle to the home of Edward J. Ham- 
ilton in Chief Rariden's automobile/' 
"The chiefs auto ain't here, sor." 
"A taxicab, then/' came the impatient 
snap. "Hurry! That's the thing I'm 
after." 

"And whin they get there, sor?" 
The commissioner's usually placid voice 
quivered with excitement : 

"Hamilton has been murdered!" 
'Twhatt? Edward Hamilton T 
"Yes. Tell Rollins to drop everything 
else and stick on that case until he gets 
the man. Tell him I know nothing about 
it except that Mrs. Faber, Hamilton's 
housekeeper, just telephoned me that 
Hamilton had been shot. I'm coming 
right down to headquarters. Tell Rollins 
to keep in touch with me. I want speed; 
understand "? And I want him to catch the 
man who did it!" 

The receiver clicked on the hook, and 



8 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

Sergeant Larry O'Brien dazedly followed 
suit at his end. Farris had risen and was 
standing at the sergeant's elbow, his old 
eyes on fire with excitement. 

'What's that, O'Brien— what's that?" 

"There's hell broke loose!" came back 
the sharp answer. "Orderly!" 

The young policeman on duty answered 
the call immediately. He had heard just 
enough of the conversation to comprehend 
its import. 

"Yes, sir?" 

"Call Chief Rollins— quick!" Then, 
turning back to Farris: "Hamilton 
killed! Holy, sufferin' mackerel!" 

Rollins came out of his private office on 
the jump. His little eyes were blazing, 
and his manner radiated the competence 
which had carried him to his present posi- 
tion of eminence on the police force. 

"What's this ? Hamilton killed ?" 

"Deader'n a doornail!" snapped 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 9 

O'Brien. "Hall wants you to take Hawk- 
ins and Cartwright and stick around there 
until you get the guy. Didn't tell me 
anything. Says the housekeeper tele- 
phoned him. He's coming down here, 
and is af ther wantin' you to keep in touch 
with us. He's liable to stop in there, so 
ye'd better hurry." 

"FU hurry. Orderly! Hike upstairs 
and tell Cartwright and Hawkins to 
come running." He viciously bit off the 
end of a black cigar. "Good Lord! Ham- 
ilton killed!" 

In an unbelievably short time the two 
plain-clothes officers presented themselves 
at the desk. Rollins briefly ordered them 
to follow. The faces of the three men de- 
tailed to the case were studies in concentra- 
tion and bewilderment. Nor could they 
conceal the excitement which gripped 
them. That Edward Hamilton of all 
men should have been murdered at this 



lo SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

particular time; Edward Hamilton, civic 
reformer, broker, social leader ! And evi- 
dently in his own home ! 

Even before the door had closed behind 
them policemen appeared from the donni- 
tories upstairs in various stages of dis- 
array, begging for news. To all of them 
O'Brien made the same answer. He knew 
nothing except that Hamilton had been 
murdered. How or why or when he did 
not know. As to the place of the crime, 
he judged it had been at Hamilton's home. 
Policemen gathered in knots and discussed 
the case excitedly, robbing themselves of 
well-earned sleep that they might miss no 
detail of the case as it was telephoned in. 
One by one they went up-stairs to make 
themselves presentable, only to return and 
lounge about the grim room, speculating 
on the whys and wherefores. 

Edward J. Hamilton occupied a unique 
position in the city's life. A bachelor at 
forty, his household had no other members 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS ii 

except his ward, a girl of about nineteen 
years of age, and one of the city's most pop- 
ular debutantes, and a Mrs. Faber, who for 
many years had held the position of house- 
keeper. 

Years before he had retired from the ac- 
tive business life of the city, although his 
retirement had been more a figure of 
speech than an actual fact. He was finan- 
cially interested in most of the city's larg- 
est enterprises ; he was on the directorates 
of the First National Bank and of a large 
lumber corporation. He was socially in 
demand — a thorough cosmopolite, a pol- 
ished gentleman, a patron of the arts; a 
man known for his gentleness of disposi- 
tion, his lovableness of character, his un- 
flagging devotion to duty, and, above all, 
for his fearlessness. 

Of enemies he had many; no man of de- 
cided character is ever entirely free from 
enemies, but they respected him. During 
recent years public office had been thrust 



12 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

at him, and he had steadfastly declined. 
But lately he had forged to the front of the 
stage with the organization of the Civic 
Reform League — a body of leading citi- 
zens who recognized the rottenness in 
Denmark and had decided to weed their 
municipal garden. It was at head of such 
a body of men that one who knew Hamil- 
ton would expect to find him. And there 
he was ! 

His murder, coming at this time, was 
nothing less than sensational. No single 
event could have so shaken the city. The 
veriest novice of the police force felt him- 
self on his toes, for it was public knowl- 
edge that the force had been slated to re- 
ceive the first broadside from the guns of 
the Civic Reform League, captained by the 
dead man. It was up to the department to 
make good, to do its bit to neutralize the 
sentiment against it by prompt and effi- 
cient action in discovering and apprehend- 
ing the culprit. 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 13 

The clock over the sergeant's desk 
slowly struck ten, and with the striking 
came the first of the calls from the police- 
men on the various beats about the city, 
giving their hourly report. At five min- 
utes past ten a handsome limousine 
whirred up to the door of police headquar- 
ters. It jerked to a protesting stop with a 
loud screeching of brakes. Inunediately 
the officers about the walls rose to their 
feet and massed together, staring toward 
the door. 

In the stark glare of the single carbon 
lamp which glowed in the doorway, the 
figure of a woman appeared. She jumped 
from the driver's seat of the big car, gath- 
ered her skirts about her, and half walked, 
half ran, across the sidewalk and into the 
police station. 

She entered the room and paused in un- 
certainty. Larry O'Brien, rising to his 
feet, appraised her swiftly with his keen 
Irish eyes. 



14 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

He saw a girl of about nineteen years 
of age, a girl with rose-red cheeks and now- 
pallid lips, flashing black eyes and raven 
hair. She was of medium height, slender, 
and, even in the tempest of emotion by 
which she was plainly gripped, wonder- 
fully graceful. Her bosom rose and fell 
unevenly ; the folds of her wrap fell back, 
disclosing a costly evening dress. The 
young policeman in the comer who had pa- 
trolled the beat on which the murder had 
that night occurred stifled an exclamation 
of surprise, but did not succeed in holding 
back the girl's name : 

''Miss Duval r 

A gasp went up from the policemen. 
They surged closer to the desk. Sergeant 
O'Brien rasped them back and bowed to 
the girl : 

"Yes, miss?' 

She stared about her in bewilderment. 

"This — this is police headquarters?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 15 

"I want to see the chief/' 

'Tm sorry, miss, he isn't here." 

It was plain that she was on the verge of 
hysteria. With a fihny bit of lacy hand- 
kerchief she dashed the tears from her eyes. 

*T must see him, I tell you ! I am Eu- 
nice Duval, Mr. Hamilton's ward. Mr. 
Hamilton has just been — ^been — ^killed!" 

O'Brien lowered his voice, trying fu- 
tilely to quiet her agitation : 

"Yes, ma'am; we've just heard it. 
Don't you worry none, ma'am, we've got 
our best men out on the case, an' we'll 
catch the man that did it. Bad cess to th' 
spalpeen." 

The girl stopped short and stared at 
him. Then she broke into a laugh; a 
laugh which was not good to hear — a loud 
laugh, gratingly harsh. 

^'You'll catch the one who did it? 
Who— who? You?" 

O'Brien was nonplussed and not a little 
embarrassed. A woman in hysterics ! 



i6 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"'Keep a holt on yersilf, ma'anL I'm 
Sergint O'Brien — ^Larry O'Brien, at yer 
service, ma'am. If ye'll have a chair 
I'll '' 

She stared at him as though transfixed. 
Then her hands went to her bosom, and she 
threw back her head once more. Peal 
after peal of laughter rang out; the laugh- 
ter of uncontrolled hysteria. Larry 
O'Brien, mumbling to the saints for help, 
deserted his post at the desk and rounded 
the railing to her side. One of the patrol- 
men — 2i man of family — diagnosed the 
case and sent out a hurry call for a flask 
of whisky. 

"Take it aisy, now, ma'am," soothed 
O'Brien. "'Tis a terrible thing, to be 
sure, but we'll catch the guy." 

The laughter stopped as abruptly and as 
eerily as it had started. For a minute the 
girl tried to speak — ^but the words seemed 
to choke her. 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 17 

*Tfou — ^you can call back the men you 
— ^you sent on the case/' she said. 

"Call them back? Ye're not falin' well, 
miss." 

"No. Can't you understand what I 
came here for? I came here to give my- 
self up! I killed Mr. Hamilionr 



CHAPTER n 

APOUCEMAN in the crowd said 
"Oh!" very suddenly, and an- 
other one broke in with a hoarse 
"Shut up!" Farris, the old-timer, me- 
dianically took down the report of the pa- 
trolman on beat sixteen. The orderly 
produced a chair as though by magic, and 
into it Eunice Duval sank gratefully. 

Not even the sensational news of Ham- 
ilton's death had created the stir in the 
minds of the policemen which was begot- 
ten by the confession of the girl that she 
was guilty of the crime. It was Larry 
O'Brien who first regained a semblance of 
his poise, and he forced a light laugh to his 
lips. 

"Av course," he said in what he fondly 
believed to be a calm and matter-of-fact 

i8 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 19 

tone, "that's diflFcrent. There bein' ex- 
tenuatin' circumstances ^" 

The girl looked up quickly. 

"There — there weren't," she said sim- 
ply. "I — ^I just shot him." 

"Ah, g'wan wid yez! He was thryin' 

to attack ye '' O'Brien was talking 

more to soothe her than to arrive at any 
definite conclusion, but she had grown sud- 
denly calmer. 

"No, he wasn't attacking — ^me. I— 
well, I've told you. I shot him, and — ^I' vc 
given myself up." 

"But surely " 

"I'm afraid I don't want to say anything 
else right now. I believe there's no bail in 
mur — in such cases as this — and I'd rather 
you put me — wherever you're going to put 
me. I'm very tired." 

Larry scratched his head in bewilder- 
ment. 

"If it was silf-definse, now ^" 



20 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"Fm afraid it wasn't. And Td prefer 
not to say anything else." 

"If there's something we can be af ther 
doin'— " 

Another car whirred to a stop outside, 
and a slender man, clean-shaven and 
rather boyish of appearance, entered the 
hall. There was something aggressive in 
his calm blue eyes and in the carriage of his 
small, well-set frame. Some of the police- 
men, seeing him, jerked to attention and 
touched their hands to the visors of their 
caps. But O'Brien was too dazed even 
for that. 

"Good avenin', sor!" was his greeting. 

Police Commissioner Clement Hall 
looked up sharply. Then his eyes lighted 
on the pitiful figure of the girl in evening 
dress. Instantly his frigidity of manner 
dropped, and he took her hand in both of 
his. 

"Eunice! You've given us a fright- 
ful scare. I stopped at the house, and 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 21 

they told me that you had gone somewhere 
in the car/' 

'Tfes; I came here to tell ** 

"They knew about it, my girl. Mrs. 
Faber telephoned me, and I got in touch 
with theuL We'll go back " 

"No — ^I'm going to stay/' 

"No, you'd better come back; or, if you 
don't want to return to the house, you can 
come with me. Mrs. Hall will look after 
you for a few days/' 

"You don't understand," she explained 
slowly. "Fm a prisoner." 

"A prisoner?" Hall forced a smile to 
his lips. "I'm afraid the — er — a tragedy 
has worked on your nerves." 

"My nerves are — very good. You see, 

I — ^I " She was shaken with a sudden 

paroxysm of sobs, and the police commis- 
sioner turned dazedly to Larry O'Brien. 

"What is she talking about?" 

"That I dunno, sor, excipt that she came 
in here a bit agone all shook up like ye see 



22 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

her now, sor, and says that she killed Mr. 
Hamilton I" 

"What? Good God!" Hall stared in 
amazement, and then voiced the thought 
that was uppermost in the minds of each : 
"It's ridiculous I" 

"I said as much, sor; but she says she 
shot him '' 

"I shot him," said Eunice dully. "Just 
a little while ago. I came right down in 
the car to give myself up." 

"Here!" Hall placed his hands pa- 
ternally on her shoulders. "You are un- 
nerved, and I'm afraid — ^not quite your- 
self. You know that you didn' t shoot Mr. 
Hamilton." 

Again she was calm, although her body 
was still wracked by an occasional sob. 

"You mean that you think I did not — 
even after I say that I did"? That is very 
foolish, Mr. Hall. I shot Mr. Hamilton." 

"Come home with me " 

"Won't you understand"? They are to 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 23 

hold me here. They can't let me go. 
There's no bail in such cases as this. I ad- 
mit that I am unstrung, but I haven't lost 
my senses. I shot Mr. Hamilton less than 
an hour ago. You can tell the detectives 
to come back. I — ^I — shot him — ^in the 
dark!" 

"In the dark?' 

She passed a tired hand across her fore- 
head. 

"The lights went out — for about six sec- 
onds. But I'd rather not discuss it now. 
I wish you'd call Mr. Denson. He is my 
lawyer as well as Mr. Hamilton's. I'd 
rather tell him about it. I have a very bad 
headache." 

Hall stared at her, pop-eyed. 

"O'Brien," he snapped, "telephone 
Samuel R. Denson to come here inmiedi- 
ately. Say Miss Duval is here and wants 
to see him. At once, you understand. 
And now, Eunice, let me beg you to be 
careful of your words. I am sure that 



04 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

there is some dreadful mistake. You 
couldn't have killed Mr. Hamilton '^ 

"I did," she repeated monotonously. 
"I killed him. I'd rather not talk about it 
now. I'm very tired. Won't you ask 
them to put me somewhere — ^by myself? 
Please — you don't understand — ^and I'd 
rather not discuss it now/' 

"Very well; I'll take you to the chiefs 
office and try to make you comfortable. I 
am sure that there is a mistake somewhere. 
You had no motive." 

"Yes, I had a motive." 

"And it wasT' eagerly. 

"I'd rather not talk about it now, if you 
please. Won't you take me to that — that 
— ^room?" 

He offered her his arm in his most 
courtly fashion, and together they crossed 
to the door of the chief's office. Once in 
there, she sank down on the couch. 

"Now please go, Mr. Hall." 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 2$ 



"But, Eunice 



yy 



**Go — ^please. Td rather be alone/' 

'^You must tell me." 

**I will tell no one anything. Just let 
me know when Mr. Denson comes. I've 
said all I care to say — now." 

Hall shook his head. 

"I — ^I — ^am all up in the air. Til wait 
here at the station, of course. If you need 
me or want me, you can press that button. 
And when Mr. Denson comes FU send him 



in." 



Thank you," she answered in a tired 
little voice. "There's nothing you can do 
— ^really. Perhaps they might let Mrs. 
Faber stay here with me. If you'll just 

send her down " 

"FU be waiting here, and of course she 
can come." 

*1 wish you wouldn't see me any more 
tonight, Mr. Hall. I appreciate your — 
your — ^kindness, but really I'd rather not. 



26 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

Oh, you must understand that Fd rather 
not be bothered ! It was all so quick and 
so— so— horrible ! Go, please." 

The police commissioner made his way 
into the main room slowly. He was 
frowning with bewilderment. The thing 
was beyond his powers of comprehension. 
He could not understand the girl. Un- 
doubtedly she had shot Hamilton — ^her re- 
iteration was too sincere. But how? Or 
why ? Above all — why ? 

Hall had known Hamilton intimately 
for twenty years. He had known Eunice 
since her birth. He had watched her grow 
through a skinny-legged girlhood to a mag- 
nificent maturity. He had been present 
at the guardianship proceedings after the 
death of her parents, when, by the will of 
her father, Hamilton was made the girl's 
guardian and trustee of her considerable 
estate. 

That she instinctively disliked Hamil^ 
ton he had realized, but a mere dis- 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 27 

like does not usually lead to tragedy. 
They had never gotten along well together 
— despite the fact that the dead man had 
been passionately fond of his young ward. 
As for her dislike for the man she had 
killed, that had dated back to childhood, 
and ripened with the passing of years. 
She had tolerated him because of her legal 
status in his household, but she made no 

secret of her aversion. And now 

Why, the thing was inconceivable. 

The group of thoroughly excited police- 
men divided into little knots as Hall ap- 
peared. Then one of them came forward 
and touched his cap. 

"Mr. Carroll is here, sir. He says you 
telephoned him." 

"Yes. Show him into the office of the 
chief of detectives." 

Glad that he had something definite to 
do. Hall made his way to the room of the 
chief of detectives, after first instructing 
O'Brien to do nothing except by his orders. 



28 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

Once in the room, he telephoned to Mrs. 
Faber, housekeeper for the dead man, 
and requested that she come to police 
headquarters at once. Then he waited for 
David Carroll. Clement Hall had great 
faith in Carroll, but he knew that the man 
faced a difficult assignment, an unusual 
task — that of plumbing the depths of the 
mad impulse which must have prompted 
Eunice Duval to the shooting of her guard- 
ian. 

The door opened and Carroll entered, 
entered so silently that for a moment Hall 
was not fully conscious of his presence. 
The police commissioner laughed shortly. 

"If I didn't know you better, Carroll, 
I'd say that that was a pose of yours — that 
damnable pussy-footed way you have of 
getting about. I don't wonder they call 
you Silent Carroll. Sit down." 

The detective obeyed. Slumped down 
in the easy-chair by the side of the chief's 
desk, he looked anything other than a fa- 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 29 

mous detective. His pink-cheeked, boy- 
ish face gave the lie to die actuality of his 
thirty-eight years, his narrow shoulders 
gave no hint of the wiry strength they pos- 
sessed, his baby blue eyes were partly 
veiled by silky lashes. David Carroll 
would have passed for anything anywhere 
save a detective. He was immaculately 
dressed in the latest tight-fitting clothes, 
his shoes were narrow and pointed, he car- 
ried a light cane and wore his hair pompa- 
doured. 

Yet David Carroll was known in six 
States as one of the cleverest of private 
detectives. His inoffensive appearance, 
which had proved a handicap to confi- 
dence at the outset of his career, was not 
his greatest asset. He had a way of insin- 
uating himself into one's consciousness 
without saying a word or making a physi- 
cal motion. One could easily fancy him a 
college senior, or a cub of a lawyer; but a 
detective, never. 



30 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

Immediately on hearing of Hamilton's 
murder. Hall had telephoned Carroll. 
The men had worked together in the past, 
and Carroll's assistance had been enlisted 
by the Civic Reform League during the 
past few months for the purpose of collect- 
ing data against certain members of the po- 
lice force and the city-hall officials. For 
that reason, if for no other, the man was in- 
tensely unpopular at headquarters ; yet he 
carried himself with an attitude of confi- 
dence which begot respect even where it in- 
spired fear. Hall leaned forward and 
launched into his story; the news of Ham- 
ilton's killing, the telephoning to the po- 
lice department, and the assignment of 
Rollins to cover the case ; then the startling 
confession of Eunice Duval. Finally he 
finished. 

"I had intended putting you in charge 
of the case over Rollins' head," he said, 
^^but of course Miss Duval's confession al- 
ters matters. I'll have to engage you pri- 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 31 

vatcly to collect evidence which will result 
in her acquittal at the inevitable trial. 
You have met her yourself, and you know 
it is absurd to think that she would have 
killed Hamilton without good and suf- 
ficient motive — though what that motive 
could have been, God only knows. The 
man was my friend, and, while he was the 
victim of a terrific temper and strong pas- 
sions, he was a gentleman, and I cannot 
imagine him giving cause for such a thing 
— especially to Eunice Duval." 

Carroll was not given to prodigality 
of words. His questions came slowly, 
drawlingly : 

"Why 'especially Eunice Duval' T 

"Because '' Hall flushed. "The 

man was a bachelor, you know. And I 
fancy that he was very much in love with 
Eunice. Her father had been his best 
friend — it had been one of those rare 
friendships which did not founder when 
both men fell in love with the same 



32 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

woman. Duval won her, and it seemed 
that the affair cemented their affection. 
Eunice is a replica of her mother, but 
Hamilton, poor fellow, never felt toward 
her as a father toward a daughter, although 
he tried to make her think so. It is an- 
other case of — well — ^he fell in love with 
the reincarnation of the mother and his 
best friend." 

"She didn't like himr 

"No. Instinct probably. She must 
have guessed that he loved her — as a lover 
loves, and not as a father. She barely tol- 
erated him. He has spoken to me of the 
matter many times. It worried him. 
There was no outspoken dislike, but her at- 
titude has always been such that he has 
been forced to remain constantly on his 
best behaviour in her presence. Can' t you 
understand the utter absurdity of her plea 
that she killed him"? There is a mistake, 
there /;2^^j/ be!'' 

"Hmm!" Carroll thrummed idly on 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 33 

the arm of his chair. 'Td suggest that 
you put me in charge of the case." 

"Over Rollins?' 

"Over Rollins or not at all/* 

"But Tm more interested in freeing 
Miss Duval/''^ 

"You're convinced that the truth will 
clear her, arc you not?' 

"Yes." 

"Then let me discover the truth." 

"You have a theory?" 

"Yes." 

"What is itr' 

"I'm afraid you'll have to permit me to 
remain silent. I do not care to voice un- 
substantiated opinions. I know nothing 
of the case." 

"But surely you can tell me ^" 

^T^othing!" 

The eyes of the two men met; Hall's 
black and penetrating, Carroll's boyishly 
blue and almost stony in their blankness. 
Hall shrugged resignedly. 



34 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"It's a go. You're in charge. I'll no- 
tify the chief of police as soon as he gets 
back to the city — ^I've wired for him — and 
I'll tell Barrett Rollins personally. 
Which reminds me that I'd better tele- 
phone him to come in. There's no use to 
have him continue nosing about Hamil- 
ton's home. The coroner's probably there 
by this time, and I'd better go there myself. 
Mrs. Faber is leaving to come down here.'* 

Carroll rose languidly. 

"Think I'll go with you. You say Miss 
Duval doesn't wish to make a statement 



now 



V 



So she says. I've telephoned for Mr. 
Denson, her lawyer. Probably after she 
sees him she'll be willing to give us details 
regarding the shooting. Until then — you 
know, old man, these things are the basis of 
your profession, but the thing has hit me 
all of a heap. And, funny as it sounds, 
I'm not nearly so shocked by the death of 
my friend as I am by the confession of his 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 35 

ward. Of course you can't appreci- 
ate '' 



"I believe I can/* smiled Carroll. "Fm 
human, you see — quite human." 

'Yes/' slowly, ''sometimes I believe you 
are. At other times I am not quite sure 
that you are not a fish." 

The men walked into the main hall to 
receive the report of Sergeant Larry 
O'Brien that Mrs. Faber had arrived and 
had taken charge of Eunice in the private 
office of the chief. In response to Hall's 
query, via a patrohnan, as to whether she 
cared to see him, Eunice sent word that she 
would have no statement to make until 
after she had seen Mr. Denson, except that 
she repeated the statement that she had 
killed Hamilton. 

Hall shrugged and. turned to Carroll. 

**You see, she is very insistent." 

^Tfes," returned Carroll significantly, 
"very!" 

"And now," continued the commis- 



36 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

sioner, "to telephone Rollins. Hello! 
What's this?" 

"This'' was a narrow-shouldered, sunk- 
en-chested, rather wild-eyed old man who 
slouched into headquarters from the street. 
His watery eyes blinked in the glare of the 
brilliant light, and he eyed the crowd of 
uniformed men dazedly. From Sergeant 
O'Brien came a muttered : 

"The' owld geezer looks half cracked." 

The old man, apparently upward of 
sixty years of age, appeared bewildered. 
He shifted uncertainly from one foot to 
the other, undecided as to what to do next. 
Then he timidly inquired for the chief of 
police. 

"Not in the city," answered one of the 
policemen. "What do you want?" 

"Who— who is in charge here?" faltered 
the old fellow. 

The policeman designated Commis- 
sioner Hall, and immediately the new- 
comer turned toward him. His weak eyes 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 37 

roved here and there about the room, ap- 
parently unable to come to rest for any 
time on any definite object. Hall turned 
away quickly. 

"Take charge of him, O'Brien. I 
haven't time to waste with '' 

"I want to see you, sir," said the little 
fellow. "My name is Badger, Frederick 
Badger." 

Hall's subconscious mind vaguely re- 
called that the name was not unfamiliar. 
Frederick Badger. Badger ? Where had 
he heard the name before ? 

He turned to the old man and touched 
him gently on the shoulder. 

"I'm the police commissioner. You 
wanted to see me privately?" 

"Yes, sir; if you're in charge here." 

"lam. Come this way. Come along, 
Carroll." 

He led the way to the policemen's rest 
room. Badger following him timidly, Car- 
roll bringing up the rear. Hall closed the 



38 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

door carefully and faced the little fellow. 

"What is it you wish?" 

Badger cleared his throat; he was very! 
ill at ease. 

"I guess you've heard my name from 
Mr. Hamilton, sir; haven't you?" 

Hamilton! Why, of course. Hamil- 
ton had spoken of some one named Badger. 
Hall scrutinized the man with interest. 1 
Why had he mentioned Hamilton, of all 
people ? 

"Well '' started Hall somewhat 

brusquely, and then, at sight of the man's 
pitiful dejection, he softened his tone con- 
siderably. "What can I do for you?" 

By way of answer, the queer little fel- 
low dived down into a capacious pocket of 
his frayed summer coat. And then Hall 
started back with an exclamation of sur- 
prise, for from its depths Frederick Badger 
produced an ugly revolver. Quite calmly 
he extended it to Hall. 

"That's it, sir." 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 39 

^That's— that's— what?" 

"The revolver, sir. The one I used/* 

"Used for what?" Hall dimly real- 
ized that the little old man was driving at 
something in connection with the Hamil- 
ton killing. 

"Didn't you know that Mr. Hamilton 
had been killed?" he inquired anxiously, 
as though surprised that the police depart- 
ment should have so long remained in ig- 
norance of an important occurrence. 

"Yes, yes — we know that Mr. Hamil- 
ton is dead. But what have you and this 
gun to do with it." 

The answer of Mr. Frederick Badger 
was quite naive. 

"You see," he explained slowly, ''that is 
the revolver I used when I killed him!" . . 



CHAPTER III 

FOR a few seconds Hall was 
stunned by the import of the 
words of the simple little man. 
Then he was conscious of an insane desire 
to laugh aloud. He glanced at David 
Carroll, and saw the little detective star- 
ing keenly from his fishy eyes at the latest 
personage to hold the centre of the stage in 
the tragedy. 

Then gradually Hall began to under- 
stand what the confession of Frederick 
Badger might mean to the girl in the other 
room who had also confessed to the crime. 
If Badger had killed Hamilton, then it fol- 
lowed as a matter of course that the girl 
had not done so. Somewhere, somehow, 
there was a mistake. Then he was con- 
scious of the fact that Badger was talking. 

40 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 41 

"He wouldn't give me my due," he was 
explaining painstakingly, "and I told him 
I was going to kill him, so I did it/' 

Carroll took the revolver and "broke" it 
with a deft motion. Four loaded car- 
tridges and one exploded shell clattered to 
the floor. The empty shell was picked up 
by the boyish-looking detective, and he 
smelled it. 

"Recent," was all he said. Badger 
gazed at him in surprise. 

"Of course," he explained. "I killed 
him less than an hour ago and walked right 
down here to give myself up." 

Commissioner Hall faced the little man 
curiously. 

"You are quite sure that you killed 
him?" 

"Of course I killed him. I told him I 
was going to, and I did. I left his house 
about eight o'clock, went down to a pawn- 
shop on Halsey Street near Oak and 
bought that revolver and the bullets." 



42 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

Immediately Carroll made his way to a 
telephone. Within three minutes he was 
back. 

''That part of the story is true. It's 
Simpson's pawnshop, and he remembers 
the sale distinctly. One of those bullets 
has been fired since the revolver was 
bought." He examined the gun closely. 
"It's a regulation police revolver, too." 

"How can that be?" questioned Hall 
sharply. 

"Some discharged policeman, probably, 
pawned his service revolver." 

"Then the case is simple," snapped Hall 
hopefully. "The bullet which really 
killed him can be identified by its size. If 
this old man did it, it will be proven be- 
yond a doubt by the size of the bullet 
found at the autopsy." 

"If I killed him?" echoed Badger. 
"Don't you understand? — ^I did kill him. 
That's what I came here to tell you^ I 
bought the revolver and went back there 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 43 

dirough the garden and stood on the ver- 
anda and killed him — in the dark!" 

"You " Hall slapped his hand 

against his knee. "By George, Carroll, 
that's the second person who has made 
some reference to killing Hamilton 'in the 
dark' !" 

Badger seemed a bit dazed at the re- 
fusal of these men to take his confession of 
murder quite seriously. Carroll was si- 
lent, tight-lipped, keenly observant — the 
lethal weapon held in his right hand. 

Once again the police commissioner took 
stock of the latest figure in the sensational 
case. The man seemed even smaller, 
weaker, and more dejected than when he 
exploded his confession of the crime to 
which some one else had already confessed. 
He was, above all things, meek; meek and 
intensely out of place. But he was de- 
termined that he had killed Hamilton, and 
with cause ! That "with cause*' feature of 
the confession impressed Clement HalL 



44 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

Eunice Duval had refused to give details. 

"Suppose you tell us what happened to- 
night, Mr. Badger," he suggested. "Start 
at the beginning and tell us everything." 

The old man spread his skinny fingers in 
a helpless gesture. 

"There isn't anything to tell except that 
I killed him and ran away." 

"You ran away?" 

"Yes." 

"If you intended to come down here and 
confess to the crime, why did you run 
away?" 

"I was frightened. The noise scared 
me — the noise and the dark." 

Here Carroll interrupted, his voice soft 
and soothing : 

"What do you mean by repeating that 
you shot him in the dark? Where was he 
when you shot?" 

"In his living room on the other side of 
the big table. I was on the veranda by the 
window." 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 45 

"You shot through the window?'' 

'*Yes. It was half open. One side of 
it was open/' 

"Now what about the darkness? 
You've said twice that you shot in the 
darL" 

Badger passed a trembling hand across 
his forehead. 

"That's the funny part of it. I took 
careful aim at Mr. Hamilton, and just be- 
fore I pulled the trigger the lights went 
out." 

"The lights in the room where he was 
standing?" 

**Yes, sir; they all went out and the 
room was very dark. Then, in about five 
seconds, they flashed on again, and I saw 
him falling, and I ran away." 

"Did you hear anything else — ^another 
shot?" 

"I don't know. You see, I wasn't 
thinking about anything except myself. 
There might have been another shot." 



46 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

**Would you have heard it if there had 
been?' 

Badger stared at him blankly. 

''Maybe; I don't know/' 

Hall was settled back in his chair, lis- 
tening amazedly to the dialogue. The 
thing was ludicrous — Carroll, who looked 
like a fussy college boy and was a truly 
great detective, discussing a case with a 
watery-eyed, harmless-appearing old man 
who confessed to murder. The thing was 
not at all as it should have been ; there was 
as little of the detective in Carroll's ap- 
pearance as there was of the murderer in 
Badger's. 

Of one thing Hall was already con- 
vinced, that, whether or not Badger had 
killed Hamilton, he was not quite sane. 
There was an occasional gleam in his weak 
old eyes when Hamilton's name was 
mentioned that denoted a mild form of 
mania. Carroll continued his question- 
ing. 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 47 

**Now suppose you tell us, Mr. Badger/' 
he said quietly, "why you killed Mr. Ham- 
ilton ?'' 
"Because I told him I was going to/' 
"When did you tell him that?'* 
"Tonight about eight o'clock. He 
laughed at me and told me not to let a lit- 
tle thing make me try anything foolish. 
Then I went down to the pawnshop and 
bought the revolver and went back and 
shot him in the dark." 

In the dark ! In the dark ! Eunice had 
spoken of shooting "in the dark." 

"Why," persisted Carroll easily, "did 
you tell Mr. Hamilton that you were going 
to kill him?" 
"Because he stole my money." 
"Hamilton stole your money?" burst 
in Hall brusquely. "That's ridiculous! 
The man was worth a fortune." 

Again that flash of fury in Badger's eyes 
•—a fire spark that died out almost as soon 
as bom. 



: stoic my money. '* 

99 



48 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

! 

*1 don't care how much he had,'* he in- = 
sisted. "He stole my money.' 

"When?' 

"Fifteen years agoJ 

"Damned rot!" chortled Hall. "This 
man is crazy!" 

"Just a minute, Mr. Hall," interrupted 
Carroll. "Tell us all about it, Mr. 
Badger." 

"He took my money — it was on a prop- 
osition to develop oil lands. Then he said 
he sent down an engineer and the engineer 
said there wasn't any oil there. But I 

knew — ^I knew ^" Badger rose to his 

feet, and as he talked his manner became 
more violent and his voice rose to a cres- 
cendo. "I know how these rich men get 
rich! They steal their money from us 
poor people. He took all my money, and 
I know there was oil there. He said there 
wasn't, and all my money was gone. I 
asked him to give it back to me, and he said 
he was sorry, but that he had lost three 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 49 

times as much as I had. And there was oil 
there — there was oil on the land when I 
bought it/' The old man had worked 
himself into a frenzy. He gesticulated 
wildly and paced the room. "Oh, he had 
it coming to him! For fifteen years I 
have visited him two or three times a week; 
Fve warned him and Fve threatened him. 
I told him that he couldn't get away with 
it. But he's got a stone heart. He didn't 
have any right to live. Tonight he 
laughed at me and said I was a 'poor nut.' 
Me, whose money he stole. And I told 

him I was going to kill him— and " 

Suddenly the frenzy of passion disap- 
peared. In the fraction of an instant he 
was metamorphosed from the victim of a 
monomania to his natural, harmless, help- 
less, inoffensive self. "And so I went to 
the pawnshop and bought the revolver 
and went back to the house and killed him. 
And then I came down here and gave my- 
self up." 



so SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"Do you realize what this means for 
you«" 

Badger shrugged. 

"There wasn't anything in life for me, 
anyway. And maybe it'll teach these rich 
people a lesson. I told him I was going to 
kill him, and then I went right down to the 
pawnshop '' 

"Yes, yes; we understand that. We'll 
hold you now. I'm sorry you had to shoot 
him " 

Again Badger was on his feet. 

"He stole my money ! He stole it !" 

Carroll reached over to the desk at which 
Hall was sitting and pressed a buzzer. 

"Put him in charge of one of your best 
men personally," he ordered. "See to it 
that he is allowed to speak to no one. Not 
even to Rollins." 

When Badger had been led away and 
the two men were alone. Hall lighted a 
cigar and puffed violently for a few min- 
utes. 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 51! 

"Of course it's damned rot I" he said at 
length. 

"What?'' queried the detective in a 
mild tone. 

"That fool notion that Hamilton stole 
his money. More than probably he went 
to Hamilton with some wildcat scheme and 
got some of Hamilton's money in on it. 
And of course Oh, danm it all, any- 
way! It's my opinion that the man is 
crazy." 

Carroll's answer was as calm and steady 
as though he were remarking on the 
weather : 

"Undoubtedly he is. But crazy men 
can kill people." 

"Of course he killed — ^but Eunice said 
she killed him." 

"H'mph! Suppose you go in and tell 
Miss Eunice that this man has confessed 
and see what she says. Ask her first if she 
knows who Badger is?" 

'If she'll see me." Hall started for the 



52 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

door. "I can't make head or tail of it 
ril tell her, though." 

His knock was answered by Mrs. Faber, 
and only after pleading with the girl 
through her did Eunice consent to speak to 
him. 

He found her lying on the couch staring, 
dry-eyed, at the ceiling. Her face was 
pallid, and one hand hung limply over the 
side of the couch. She spoke without 
turning her head : 

'What is it, Mr. Hall?" 

"I hate to bother you, Eunice; but 
there's been a terrible mistake somewhere, 
and I want you to help me out. Tell me 
first, do you know of a man named Freder- 
ick Badger?' 

She turned her face to the wall. 

"I thought you wanted to see me about 
something important, Mr. Hall. Tm not 
at all well, and I wish " 

"But this is important ; really it is. Do 
you know of him?' 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 53 

"Of course I do!'* she said somewhat 
sharply. "He's been bothering Mr. — ^Mn 
—Hamilton for years. They were in 
some business deal together. Mr. Hamil- 
ton thought he was crazy.'* 

"I see.'' 

"And now, if that's all you wanted to 
know, I wish you'd go. I don't want to 
see any one except Mr. Denson. He 
hasn't come yet, has he?" 

"No. Eunice, please, won't you take a 
friend's advice and retract your confes- 
sion?" 

"Of course not ! I killed him. That's 
all I have to say." 

"But you did not kill him," said Hall 
desperately. "That man has already con- 
fessed to Mr. Hamilton's murder!" 

The effect of his words was electri- 
cal. The girl's figure stiffened, grew 
rigid; then in a flash she was on her 
feet, bosom heaving, eyes flashing, fists 
clenched. 



54 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"You're lying! You know you are ly— 
ing!" 

Hall gave back a step. 

"Eunice ! You know Fm not. He has 
confessed to the killing/' 

"It's a lie!'' A pause, and then: 
"Whatman?" 

"Frederick Badger!" 

"O-^-^-A?" As suddenly as she had 
risen, she relaxed. The light died from 
her eyes. She crumpled on the couch. 
"Why — why — didn't you say that?'^ 

"I did. I explained. That's why I 
asked you who he was. If you'll with- 
draw your confession now we'll probably 
let you go home. Badger killed him." 

She turned her haggard face to him. 

"I told you Badger is crazy. I repeat 
it. He didn't kill Mr. Hamilton. I did 
— shot him with his own revolver!" 

"But, Eunice ^" 

"Mrs. Faber," she said weakly, "please 
make Mr. H^U go. He means well, but I 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS S5 

can't stand much more of this. I — ^I'U go 
to pieces again in a minute." 

Hall was hurt. He bowed in the girl's 
direction. 

"ni go, Mrs. Faber, but there is a 
mistake. She didn't kill Mr. Hamilton. 
This man Badger insists that he did. He 
bought a revolver and went there and shot 
him '' 

The eyes of the little housekeeper 
lighted. 

"That explains the second shot." 

''What second shot?" 

"There were two shots, sir. I was in 
my room in bed. I heard a shot — that 
echoed all around. Then there was an- 
other shot. I put my wrapper on, and 
when I got downstairs Mr. Hamilton was 

— ^was ^' She glanced significantly 

toward the huddled figure of the girl on 
the couch. "You understand, sir." 

"Yes, I understand. I think I do. 
The shot that echoed was the one from in- 



56 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

side the room. The other was from out- 
side. What a mess!'' 

He left the two women together and 
told his story to Carroll. 

"That simplifies things/' said Carroll. 
"We'll have an autopsy performed and 
discover whether Hamilton was killed by a 
bullet from a police revolver. Badger's 
weapon was undoubtedly one." 

Hall shook his head. 

"They're performing the autopsy now/' 
he said, "but that will tell us nothing. 
The girl says she used Hamilton's re- 
volver. That revolver was a present to 
him from me — ^and it was the duplicate of 
the one Badger used!" 

Hall shook his head. 

"That makes it a little harder. And 
Miss Duval still refuses to go into de- 
tails?" 

"Yes. She insists on seeing Denson 
first* I can't blame her. Poor little kid. 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 57 

she's gone through hell this night. She's 
a wreck. And now I haven't yet tele- 
phoned Rollins/' He turned to the in- 
strument on his desk, but Carroll stopped 
him. 

"Don't; not yet. Let him work over 
the ground. Maybe he'll run across some- 
thing which will prove which one really 
killed him." 

"Ye-e-s; perhaps he will. I'm almost 
afraid that he will." 

Carroll looked up sharply. 
"I see you think the girl's bullet did it?" 
he said interrogatively. 
Hall flushed dully. 
I think nothing," he said curtly. 
However, I'll let Rollins remain." 
For some minutes they sat quietly. Hall 
puffing on a cigar and Carroll raptly 
contemplating the glowing end of a Turk- 
ish cigarette. Then there was a violent 
knock at the door. 






58 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

^XUome in !'* And in response to Hair i 
command a young officer burst into tL*^ 



room. 



A young man to see you immediatel>^^ 
Mr. Hall — ^he says you know him; hL-^ 
name is Harrelson — ^Vincent Harrelson.'' 

Hall felt Carroll's eyes upon him, anc/ 
he gave answer to the unspoken query : 

"Yes, it's Vincent Harrelson, the artist. 
I think — ^mind you, I don't know — that he 
was secretly engaged to Eunice." 

"A-a-h ! Let's go see what he wants." 

Again the man they saw did not fit into 
the picture. Artist he was, but not at all 
the painter depicted in fiction. He was 
more than six feet in height, broad of 
shoulder and very deep of chest. His big, 
soft, brown eyes contained a strange light ; 
there was suppressed excitement in his 
manner. He made his way immediately 
to Hall. 

"They told me the chief of police was 
out of the city and that you were here," he 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKINESS 59 

said swiftly, the words almost tumbling 
over one another. "You know who I am 
— ^and you know something about family 
conditions '' 

"Yes, I understand/' 

'1 just came in to give myself up, sir. 
About an hour ago I quarreled with Mr. 
Hamilton — ^and / killed himr 









i 



CHAPTER IV 

OUT of the stillness which fol- 
lowed the young man's an- 
nouncement came the mumbled 
words of a policeman : 

"Begorra, this murder is just one 
damned confession after another !'' Then 
some one said: "Hush, you fool!'' and 
there was quiet again. 

Clement Hall was too startled foi* im- 
mediate speech. His jaw dropped and his 
figure slumped limply. The young man 
stared at him in surprise, and then curi- 
ously at David Carroll, who was eyeing 
him with a deliberation which brought a 
slow flush of anger to the young artist's 
face. He fidgeted uncomfortably. Fi- 
nally he broke out irritably : 

^^What are you staring at 9 And why ?" 

By way of answer Carroll flipped back 

60 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 61 

the lapel of his coat, disclosing his badge. 
Harrelson subsided. Carroll spoke softly : 

"This way, young man, and you, too, 
commissioner, if you please/' 

A battery of curious eyes followed their 
progress across the sombre hall, and as the 
door of the rest room closed behind them a 
bedlam of comment and conjecture broke 
loose. 

The case had piled sensation on sensa- 
tion until it had long since passed the point 
of plausibility. Larry O'Brien waxed 
garrulous. 

"Be all the saints, 'tis spooky ! Usually 
whin a murder is done we hunt for the 
guilty. This time we have two guilty 
wans and have to hunt for the innocent. 
Bedad, they lied whin they said that won- 
ders have ceased !" 

Meanwhile, in the rest room, David Car- 
roll was questioning Vincent Harrelson in 
his habitual calm, unperturbed way. His 
first effort was to discover if the yoimg man 



62 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

knew that any one else had confessed. 

"You say you killed Hamilton?'' 

"Yes." 

"Why?'' 

"We quarreled when I visited his house 
tonight. We have quarreled several 
times before. It is strictly a personal mat- 
ter. I believe Mr. Hall was sufficiently 
intimate at Hamilton's home to under- 
stand." 

Hall nodded. 

"I believe I do." 

"You shot him in cold blood?" asked 
Carroll deliberately. 

The young man leaped to his feet. 

"Good God, no! We quarreled bit- 
terly and he lost his head. He hit me 
here." Harrelson exhibited a red spot on 
his left cheek. "I grappled with him and 
he tore loose. We were in the library 
then. He dashed to the table, picked up 
a paper weight, and would have thrown it 
at me, but I held him. When finally I let 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS ^ 

him go— and it is more than possible that 
I handled him a bit roughly — ^he ran into 
the next room and took a revolver from the 
drawer of the table. I grabbed his wrist 
and got the revolver away from him. 
Then it went off — ^how, I don't know. 
He fell, and that's all.'' 
"That's alir 
"Yes." 

"You're sure?" 

The yoimg man straightened nervously. 
"Say, look here, what are you driving 
at? I've told you that was all !" 

Apparently Carroll was looking at a set 
of dominoes spread out on the table before 
hinL His next remark was as casual as a 
comment on an item in the day's news : 

"How about the switching off of the 
lights?" 

But, disinterested as he seemed, he did 
not miss the sudden pallor of Harrelson's 
cheeks. The young man opened his 
mouth to speak, closed it again, and rose. 



64 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

' "I don't know what you're talking 
about, and I refuse to say anything fur- 
ther!" 

Carroirs voice grew cold as steel. 

''What about the switching off of the 
lights?'' he snapped. "And who fired the 
other shot?" 

Harrelson gripped the edge of his chair. 

"I have nothing further to say at this 
time. I've told you I killed Mr. Hamil- 
ton, and that's all I'm going to tell you. 
I wish you'd put me in a cell or wherever 
I am to be put." 

"you're a very foolish young man," said 
Carroll. "If I were you ^" 

"You're not. And I'll be exceedingly 
obliged if you'll keep your advice to your- 
self." 

Clement Hall touched the artist on the 



arm. 



He's trying to help you, Mr. Harrel- 



son." 



"I haven't asked for help from any one. 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 65 

Tve come down here to give myself up for 
killing a man. The duty of the police de- 
partment is very plain. There's nothing 
the to the case."' 

'^You're mistaken, Mr. Harrelson/' said 
Carroll in his characteristically friendly 
manner. '1 am in charge of this case, and 
I know several things about it which you 
think I do not know. Since you have seen 
fit to assume a hostile attitude, I will not 
mince matters. Put in plain English, 
your story is false as to several salient 
facts. I happen to know that just before 
Mr. Hamilton was shot the lights went 
out. They remained out for about six 
seconds. Then they snapped on again. 
Therefore, we are presented with one very 
pertinent question: Who switched those 
lights off and who switched them on again, 
and why? Have you anything to say 
about that?' 

Harrelson looked up sullenly. 
"Nothing." 



66 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"Item number one/' retorted Carrol 
with sudden and incisive coldness. "I ten 
number two is the fact that there were twc 
shots, one evidently in the dark and om 
inunediately after the lights were switchec 
on. Which shot, if you please, did yoi 
fire?' 

"I fired the shot which killed Mr. Ham- 
ilton," came the stolid answer. 

"You are quite sure?'* 

"You can prove it easily enough. Get 
the bullet which killed him and see if it 
does not fit his revolver. That will an- 
swer you. I don't know anything about 
any second shot." 

"You mean you won't tell?" 

"Have it your own way. Tve said all 
I intend to." 

"Who else was in the room at the time of 
the shooting?" 

"I have nothing more to say." 

Carroll smiled. 

"That answer is perfectly satisfactory.*' 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 67 

Then to Hall: "I will hold this young 
man in one of the cells under special guard. 
No one is to be allowed to discuss the case 
with him. Is that satisfactory?'* 

"You're in charge, Carroll. My inter- 
est is far more personal than official." 

A sergeant was called and the prisoner 
placed in his charge with instructions 
not to discuss any phase of the case with 
him. Once alone, the two men faced each 
other and Carroll laughed shortly. 

"It is a poser/' he admitted. "The most 
interesting case I have ever worked. The 
usual order of things is reversed. We 
have three people claiming guilt for a 
crime which only one could have commit- 
ted H'mph! That young man is very 
--er — tart." 

"Temperament !" snorted Hall. "He's 
an artist!" 

"And, I believe you said, engaged to 
Miss Duval?" 

"That's the bone of contention between 



68 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

him and Hamilton. Hamilton, I suspect, 
was deeply in love with Miss Duval ; and 
even under normal circumstances he would 
not have been overly fond of the man 
whom she happened to love. That, then, 
was the case between them basically. 

"But Hamilton was superconscientious. 
I believe he was broad enough to have 
sanctioned her marriage with Harrelson 
had he found no fault with the young man 
personally. But whether it was true or 
not, whether or not it was just — ^he was 
sincere in the belief that Harrelson was 
after Miss Duval's money, that he was 
worthless personally, that he was lazy, and 
that he was rather much of a Lothario.'* 

"Hmm! His temperament — would it 
be of the kind '' 

"I know exactly what you are thinking; 
you're wondering whether he would be 
quixotic enough to surrender himself for 
a crime the girl had conunitted? Isn't 
that it?" 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 69 

'I don't know. He might and he might 
not On the other hand, he has exhibited 
a certain strength of character in giving 
himself up at all, especially if a rigid in- 
vestigation would have implicated her. 
He could have gotten away/' 

"Fm not so sure/' said Carroll slowly. 
"And remember this, that if he told us the 
strict and whole truth — which he quite evi- 
dently did not — ^no jury in the world 
would convict him of anything. But 
there is something wrong somewhere. He 
niay have lied as to the darkness and the 
second shot in order to shield the girl. On 
the other hand, he may have killed the man 
himself, formulated this self-defence 
story, and thought to bluff it out. I don't 
know the significance of the sudden dark- 
ness at the time of the shooting, but that it 
did have something to do with it I am 



sure/' 



"That whole phase of it," snapped Hall 



70 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

somewhat irritably, "strikes me as silly 
Who would have turned out the lights ir 
the room at that particular time, and why's 
Certainly it was no time for domestic pyro- 
technics. And, besides, while we are dis- 
cussing whether Miss Duval or Harrelson 
may be the guilty one, we have completely 
forgotten old man Badger, the one person 
who has supplied confession, motive, evi- 
dence, and testimony/' 

"No-o, Mr. Hall — I hadn't quite forgot- 
ten Badger. Without him the case is com- 
plicated enough. With him — it is — er— 
interesting, very interesting. I suggest 
that you telephone Doctor Robinson; he 
should have found the bullet by thii 
time.*' 

Doctor Robinson had found the bullet 
and Doctor Robinson was desirous of com- 
ing down to see Mr. Hall immediately 
He came, and a quick and thorough exam- 
ination showed that the lethal bullet was 
of the same calibre as that used in the offi- 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 71 

cial police revolvers. Hall looked at Car- 
roll and Carroll looked at Hall. 

*lt would have been queer/' remarked 
Carroll easily, "if something had turned 
up to bewilder us more. Although that 
would have been well-nigh impossible." 

Hall laughed shortly. He questioned 
the doctor : 

"The man was only shot once; you are 
quite sure?" 

"Just once. I am positive of it." 

"Where was he shot?" 

"Through the heart. The bullet en- 
tered his left side." 

"Would you say, after close investiga- 
tion, doctor," questioned Carroll, "that the 
bullet that killed him was fired from very 
close to him?" 

Doctor Robinson looked up in some 
surprise. 

**Why, no; I should say most emphat- 
ically that it was fired from a distance.' 

"The distance of a few feet?' 



ancc. " 

)99 



72 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"More than that. I do not pretend to 
be an expert in such matters, but 1 should 
hazard a guess that the person who killed 
him fired from a distance of at least 
twenty-five feet/' 

Carroll thanked the doctor briefly and 
requested him to take charge of the body 
with the coroner. After the man of medi- 
cine had gone, Hall sank weakly into a 
chair and spread his hands helplessly. 

"I give it up altogether,'' he said hope- 
lessly. "He is certain that the bullet was 
fired from a distance. Badger's bullet 
was the only one fired from a distance. 
Eunice Duval insists that she was in the 
room with him, and, while she gave no de- 
tails, she led us to believe that they were 
close together. Harrelson maintains that 
they were struggling when the shot was 
fired. Evidence of that would have been 
unmistakable — ^powder marks and the sear 
of the flame. I am convinced that Har- 
relson confessed to save Eunice, although 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 73. 

what she had to do with it Good 

Lord! the thing is fearful!" 

"Fm not convinced of anything — ^yet,'* 
said Carroll slowly. "Not even that Har- 
rclson did not do it himself/' 

"But, great goodness, man, he couldrCt 
have done it if he was grappling with the 
man!" 

"How do we know that he was grap- 
pling with him? He lied to us about the 
sudden darkness ; he swears he knows noth- 
ing about a second shot. Why is it not 
possible that both he and Miss Duval 
shot?" 

"Hamilton was only hit once/' 

"One might have missed and the other 
finished it*'* 

"You're crazy. They are not members 
of a murderers' club. Your beastly the- 



ories ^^ 



<r 



'Easy, there, Mr. Hall — ^you're letting 
your personal interest run away with your 
sounder judgment. I have merely ad* 



74 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

vanced theories, none of which do I be- 
lieve." 

4 

"Then for God's sake tell me what you 
do believe !" 

"I prefer not to. I'd rather work the 
case my own way. It ought not prove 
a very difficult task to disclose the inno- 
cence of those who are innocent." 

"And we have the guilty one dead to 
rights?" 

"Yes, we have the guilty one dead to 
rights." 

"I — ^I'm glad you're in charge of the 
case, Carroll. You're so — so — damned 
impersonal!" 

"That's my business. Just at present 
I'm willing to admit frankly that, b^ing 
only human, I'm about as confused as you 
are. I want to get off by myself and 
think. Which I cannot do with that in- 
fernal noise dinning in my ears." 

The noise was the clanging of the police 
patrol which swung in from the street to 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 7^ 

the courtyard, gong clanging and muffler 
cut out. Carroll and the police commis- 
sioner strolled to the window and gazed 
out into the stone-flagged courtyard sur- 
rounded by its austere greystone wall and 
beyond that a frame of trees garlanded 
with the fresh leaves of early siunmer. It 
was Hall who recognized the man in 
charge of the wagon. 

"By George, it's Barrett Rollins!" 

Carroll evinced sudden interest. 

"So it is," he said quietly, eyeing the 
heavy-set form of the chief of the regular 
detective force. "And he's got a wounded 
man in that wagon. I wonder if he's been 
using his revolver again to bring down 
some poor suspect. That's a habit of his 
— ^firing his revolver rather indiscrim- 
inately." 

"He's been on the carpet for it a half 
dozen times," answered Hall. "I wonder 



now ^" 



"I suggest that you have him sent in 



76 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

here/' said Carroll. "He may have some- 
thing of interest to tell us." 

In response to orders, Barrett Rollins 
entered the room a few minutes later. 
But he was not alone. 

With him was a huge man, lantern- 
jawed, shaggy-haired, and with glowing 
eyes which flamed from beneath heavy 
lashes. Rollins' attitude was one of tri- 
umph; then he flushed with sudden fury 
as his eyes fell on the figure of Carroll. 
But Carroll was staring at the blood- 
stained bandage around the hand and 
wrist of the prisoner. 

"What you doin' here?" Rollins de- 
manded gruffly. 

Carroll shrugged. 

"You might ask Mr. Hall." 

Hall spoke softly : 

"IVe placed Mr. Carroll in charge of 
the Hamilton case, Rollins. Absolutely 
in charge." 

Rollins' face took on a sneer. 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 77 

'Tfou can let your fine Sherlock Holmes 
go/^ he said triumphantly. "Because the 
case is solved. This here man is Red 
Hartigan, alias Rio Red, alias Pete Harti- 
gan 

"Yes, yes !" Hall was leaning forward 
anxiously. "What about him?'' 

Rollins chuckled. 

^'Red Hartigan^'' he exulted, "^V the 
man who murdered Mr. Hamiltonly 




CHAPTER V 

HOARSE cry broke from the 
lips of the wounded prisoner. 
He tore away from his captor 
and stepped forward swiftly, waving the 
stained bandage in the very face of Hall 
and Carroll. 

"It's a danmed lie !" he croaked hoarsely. 
"I was in that house, an' I was in there 
to steal, but I didn't kill, and when he 
says I did he lies!" 

Hall was conscious of one rather ridicu- 
lous thought — ^he was relieved that one 
person at least protested innocence. 

Rollins reached out a sinewy arm and 
wrapped his fingers around the prisoner's 
uninjured wrist. 

"Keep a civil tongue between them 

damned crooked lips of yours, Hartigan. 

78 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 79 

You can't get away with such stuff as 
that." 

Carroll was apparently not at all inter- 
ested in the prisoner or his captor. He 
was scribbling on a bit of paper, and at 
length he slid it across the table toward 
Hall. Rollins caught the bit of byplay 
and scowled darkly at the little detective. 
Hall read : 

''Let me handle this. Rollins is to 
know nothing at all about Badger. I 
will have Badger removed at once^ 

Hall nodded, and immediately Carroll 
reclaimed the paper, which he tore into 
tiny bits and carefully placed in a vest 
pocket. The whole thing was done in the 
most casual manner. Rollins voiced a 
sneer : 

"Old sleuth! Behind time, as usual." 

'Td be a bit more civil, Rollins," said 
Hall sharply. ''Until I choose to remove 
him, Mr. Carroll is your superior officer 
and must be accorded due respect." 



«o SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

Rollins shrugged. 

^'Obedience hell get/' he rasped, '1>ut 
respect FU not give him. I've only con- 
tempt for such as him." 

"I tell you '' but Carroll put a quiet, 

restraining hand on Hall's arm. 

"No use to get excited, Mr. Hall. I 
can well understand how Rollins feels at 
having a rank outsider brought in and put 
over his head. I think we'll get along 
better when he understands that I am 
working with him and not against him." 

The detective rose, and, crossing the 
room, placed himself squarely in front of 
Rollins. He spoke quietly and force- 
fully: 

"I want you to understand, Rollins, 
that we're not to pull against each other. 
You don't like me and I can't say that 
I'm wasting any love on you. But this is 
not a personal matter, and I'd rather work 
it as your ally. I'm perfectly willing to 
listen to your advice, and I haven't a doubt 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 8ll 

that a good deal of it will be worth taking. 
1 shall not use my authority unless I con- 
sider it necessary. After the case is fin- 
ished you have my permission to vilify me 
as much as you choose. Until then I'd 
xather that we pulled together. How 
about it?'' 

Rollins stared at the little fellow curi- 
ously. 

"You're a funny sort of a boob," he 
vouchsafed at length. "I don't like you 
—■never have and never will — and for 
three cents I'd resign my job. I think 
it's a rotten deal, this calling in an out- 
sider to get the glory for a case that I've 
solved in an hour. But there's a lot of 
common sense in what you say, and if you 
are willing to pull with me, I'm no damned 
fool. I'll say it's a go!" 

"Grood! And one more thing, Rollins 
"^my name will not figure in the case. 
So far as the newspapers are concerned, 
you are in charge. Now to business." 



82 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

Rollins was mollified in spite of him- 
self. He seated himself and motioned the 
captive to a chair. Much of the aggres- 
siveness had dropped from his grim visage 
as he prepared for Carroirs quiet question- 
ing. 

"Suppose you tell us why you think this 
man Hartigan killed Mr. Hamilton?" sug- 
gested Carroll. 

"Sure!" Rollins lighted a rank brier 
and launched into his story : 

"It's this way. When I gets to the 
house, the first thing I find out — this bein' 
from the old dame who ran the shebang 
for Hamilton — is that there was two shots 
fired; get that?" 

"Yes." 

"I poked my nose in- on the doc who 
was making the autopsy, and he tells me 
the man was shot only once. So right 
away I get busy. I go into the room and 
find things just as they was with some one 
having had sense enough to mark the spot 



I" 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 83 

on the floor where the man fell. It's a big 
room with a door opening on to a large 
veranda on the south side. Beyond that a 
garden. Next to the door one of these 
here big French windows. Then an L in 
the veranda and another French window 
facing east. 

"Right in the angle of the room is one 
of these here fancy screens. The window 
was open. First crack out of the bat I 
find a police revolver on the floor. Here 

It IS. 

He tossed a blue steel weapon on the 
table. "As yx)u'll see, one chamber has 
been fired. That revolver was half- 
way between the centre table and the 
screen. I step behind the screen, and I 
find this bird lying there with a hole in his 
wrist. By his side is this gun — another 
police revolver" — he laid a second weapon 
beside its twin — "and that, also, has been 
exploded once. It's the one this bucko 
used. See?' 



84 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"It's a lie !" broke out Hartigan desper- 
ately. "I didn't even carry a gun." 

' 'Keep your mouth shut ! We' 11 let you 
talk later. As I was sayin', in the screen 
I find a bullet hole, and the case is simple 
as A B C. Right alongside Hartigan is a 
bundle of swag. What happened was 
that he was cleanin' out the house when 
Hamilton hears a noise; Hartigan ducks 
behind the screen, but Hamilton knows 
he's there. Hamilton takes a pot shot at 
him an' hits him in the wrist; Hartigan 
shoots back and kills his man. And if that 
needs more explainin' I don't see where it 



comes in." 



Carroll spoke without raising his eyes: 
"You are sure these are police revolvers, 

Rollins?" 

"Sure as I am that you're sitting there/' 
"Hnun ! Where did you get this gun, 

Hartigan?' 

The prisoner shook his head hopelessly* 
I'm telling youse I didn't have no gat* 



«T>. 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 85 

I ain't never carried one. Rollins knows 

that as well as I do; he's got a line on all 

of us yeggs, an' he knows them that carries 

guns and them that don't. A burglary 

charge I don't mind facin'; but murder, 

no. You go ask my pals if they've ever 

known me to carry a gun; they'll tell you 

not." 

^'Suppose you tell us what happened." 

The confessed burglar leaned forward 

eagerly. 

"It was this way. A pal o' mine and 



me '' 



*Who?" 

Hartigan flushed. "I ain't no squealer ; 
y'can find that out for yourself. A pal o' 
mine frames with me to crack this Hamil- 
ton crib. We go in together, leavin' a 
lookout by the road in front of the garden. 
I get one bag of loot and he gets the other. 
It's all framed that I'm to go out through 
the winder of that room. I get in there, 
and right away I hear two fellers scrap- 



86 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

pin' in the next room. I duck behind 
screen. The two guys come, fighting i 
the room — 



93 

)93 



"Nobody else in there?' 

"Yes; that's the funny part. Just 
they come in, battin' hell out of each ot 
— one of 'em bein' Hamilton an' the ot 
one a big man I don't know — a girl st 
out from behind some curtains over 
window in the other corner of the food 
over beyond the door. 

"Hamilton breaks loose from the 
feller and makes a jump for the tal 
He yanks a gun outa the drawer, 
man gets hun before he can shoot. T 
scrap around ; then all of a sudden it ^ 
dark, and I hear two shots, and I get th 
He held up his wrist. "I hang on tt 
for a while, afraid they're going to i 
me. I feel right sick, so I lay down e 
on the floor. Then I don't remember a 
thing else until this bull," pointing to I 
lins, "has me in the horspital gettin' fi 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 87 

up. Then he brings me here. An' that's 
the truth, s'help me Gawd!" 

Carroll nodded briefly. 

"Call Cartwright, will you, Rollins?' 

Rollins did as bidden, and into Cart- 
wright's custody the prisoner was given, 
with explicit instructions not to allow him 
to speak of the case to any one. Then 
Carroll excused himself, called a young 
protege of his who wore the uniform of 
the force, and this man he placed on special 
duty before the concrete cell in which 
Badger had been placed. 

"Under no circumstances," he ordered, 
"is any one to be allowed to talk to this 
man. If he wants anything, or insists on 
seeing some one, call me. Understand? 
No one — Rollins or even the chief of po- 
lice. I'm in charge of the case. Get it?" 

The young officer nodded. 

"I understand, Mr. Carroll. He'll not 
be allowed to talk to any one. I'll stick 
right here." 



f 

88 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"Good ! I'll remember you. And Fn 
trusting you. You're not even to talk to 
him yourself. If any one asks who is ii 
here, refuse to answer.'* 

Carroll returned to the rest room. Hal 
was sitting, as Carroll had left him, at th< 
big domino table. Rollins slouched b; 
the window, staring at nothing. Finall; 
he turned and addressed Hall : 

"That's all, isn't it?" 

"Better ask Carroll, Rollins." 

"How about it, Carroll?" 

"I'm afraid it isn't, Rollins. There' 
more to the case than you seem to know; 

"It's open and shut. There's your tw 
shots ; Hartigan popping at Hamilton ar 
Hamilton at him. They both hit an' on 
of 'em croaks. The man's story about th 
fight and all that is a rotten lie — thinner': 
water. My Gawd, I don't see what els 
you could want ! His story don't hold f o 
a minute '' 

"Ye-e-es, I believe it does. What yo 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 89 

don't know is this : Two people have al- 
ready given themselves up tonight for kill- 
ing Mr. Hamilton!" 

"Huh !" Rollins stared first at Carroirs 
placid face and then at G)nmiissioner 
Hall. *Two people! Aw, what is this, 
a joke party?" 

'Tm deadly serious. Hartigan says 
Hamilton was fighting with a man, and 
that there was a girl in the room. That 
man and that girl are both here in this 
police station under arrest for Hamilton's 
killing. The story that each tells exactly 
jibes with Hartigan's. Undoubtedly one 
of the bullets was fired from the revolver 
you found on the floor. And the other 
must have come from Hartigan's revol- 
ver." 

"Sure! Sure! Only — it seems sorter 
funny — ^two people giving themselves up ! 
On the level, you ain't stringing me, are 
you?" 

''No! Now as to that second shot. 



90 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

There's no question that it was fired. By 
the way, where did you find Hartigan's 
revolver? Didn't you say it was in his 
pocket?" ' 

Rollins answered very slowly : 

"Yes, it was in his pocket. I found it 
there." 

"I suppose he put it there after he shot 
at Hamilton. He was quite conscious ; he 
admitted that when he said he felt him- 
self getting weak and laid down gently so 
they wouldn't hear him fall. Yes, he 
must have shot Hamilton." 

Rollins stared keenly at the other. 

"Sure, he shot Hamilton! What gets 
me is this man and the girl giving them- 
selves up an' saying they done it. Who 
are they?" 

"Hamilton's ward. Miss Eunice Duval, 
and a young artist named Harrelson." 

"Vincent Harrelson?" 

"Yes." 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 91 

"Him and her is pretty good friends, 
ain't they?' 

"Yes — why do you ask?" 

"Nothin'j only it strikes me that maybe 
t^oth are lyin ." 

Hall broke in shortly : 

"People don't usually go around trying 
"to fasten the crime of murder on their own 
Heads, Rollins." 

^No-o." 

'You're quite sure," persisted Carroll, 
*^that you found that revolver in Harti- 
^an's pocket*?" 

Rollins rose to his feet. 
"Say, what th' hell you harping on that 
for? Of course I found it in his pocket. 
it was there when I drug him from behind 
the screen. Thought he'd croaked until I 
seen he'd only keeled over from loss of 
blood. It was him that done it, all right." 
"It looks that way. But why the con- 
fessions of Miss Duval and Harrelson?" 






92 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

Rollins pondered deeply, and then sud- 
denly he smiled with the light of inspira- 
tion. 

"Cinch!'' 

"How?' 

"There's most likely something between 
them. They was both there — ^providin' 
what Hartigan says is true. There was a 
lot of excitement. The girl thinks the 
man done it an' the man thinks the girl 
did, an' each one is sayin' that the other 
done it so's to save 'em. You read about 
that all the time." 

Carroll thought deeply. Then he 
brought his fist down on the table with a 
crash. 

"You're right, Rollins! You must be 
right ! They all say that the lights went 
out just when the shooting took place, and 
both Miss Duval and Mr. Harrelson think 
that the other did it. So they both con- 
fess. It's simple. I take my hat off to 
you. I'll confess frankly that I never 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 93 

would have thought of it. I think you've 
solved it." 

Rollins flushed with pardonable pride. 

"Us regular bulls ain't the fools we're 
given credit for bein', Mr. Carroll," he 
said, respectfully, glowing under the 
other's praise. "All you gotta do now is 
tell 'em about Hartigan and you'll see 'em 
withdraw their confessions so quick it'll 
make your head swim. Y'see, Mr. Hall, 
there wasn't no need for having any one 
else in on the case — ^not that I'm sore at 
Mr. Carroll here. He's man enough to 
admit I got the goods right." 

Carroll rose and extended his hand. 
Rollins crushed it in a viselike grip. 

"You're all right, Rollins. I admit it 
cheerfully." 

"Thanks, Mr. Carroll. And there ain't 
no hard feelin's over my bein' sore at 
you?" 

"Not a one. I understand it perfectly. 
And now suppose you look after Hartigan. 



94 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

I want to get things straightened up with 
Mr. Hall. He's a personal friend of Miss 
Duval, and he'll have to tell her himself." 

"That's all right. Good night, gentle- 
men!" And Barrett Rollins, chief of the 
plain-clothes staff, bowed himself out. 

For a while Carroll stared at the door 
through which he had gone, and then he 
sank into a chair and thrummed on the 
table. Hall leaned forward, very much 
puzzled. 

"What's the idea?' he asked. "You 
certainly don't think the case is finished?" 

Carroll laughed sharply. 

"Certainly not. It's just begun." 

"Of course it might be that Hartigan 
killed Mr. Hamilton and the two young 
people confessed to save one another." 

"It might be," said Carroll shortly, "but 
I'm very much of the opinion that it isn't. 
You see, Mr. Hall — you are completely 
overlooking a certain Mr. Frederick Bad- 



f'» 




CHAPTER VI 

ALL opened his lips to speak, 
closed them suddenly without 
uttering a sound, and then 
repeated the fishlike motion. Carroll 
laughed. 

"It is grim, but it's funny," he remarked. 
"It's — damnable! Yes, sir, that's the 
Word for it. Here we have three people 
confessing to a crime and a fourth hedged 
about with almost incontrovertible cir- 
cimistantial evidence. And now my pet 
theory is exploded." 
"Which isr 

''Was,'' corrected Hall, "that Badger 
did the fatal shooting." 

"Fm afraid, Mr. Hall," said Carroll 
kindly, "that you are ready to fasten the 
guilt on the one suspect most likely to be 

95 



96 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

freed by a jury. Undoubtedly Badger is 
demented. I've seen men with the same 
look, and they were not men who were 
mentally normal. And now let me tell 
you what I have done so that you will play 
your cards accordingly. No one here ex- 
cept you and I know that Badger has con- 
fessed to the crime. I want no one else to 
know it." 

"Eunice Duval has been told." 

"Rollins must not be allowed to talk to 
her." 

"Very well. What you say goes — in 
this case. But why keep Rollins in the 
dark? Don't you believe his story about 
Hartigan?" 

"I believe everything and I believe 
nothing. Nor have I drawn any definite 
conclusions as yet. I admit frankly that 
I am up in the air for a solution of the mys- 
tery — as much as you are. The girl tells 
a straight story — ^such as it is. Harrel- 
son's story is also straight, and one reason 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 97 

I am inclined to give it credence is that, 
whedier true or false, it is so framed that 
no jury would convict him under those cir- 
cumstances. Then we have the possibil- 
ity that the man knows the girl did it and 
is confessing to save her. On the other 
hand, we have the possibility that the girl 
knows her sweetheart committed the crime 
and is confessing to save him. On the 
third hand we have Badger — who I firmly 
believe shot at Hamilton — the stories of 
Badger and the girl tally too closely. Our 
fourth is Hartigan, who stoutly denies 
having had a hand in the matter. Alto- 
gether, I think our first job is to get a car 
and take a look over the scene of the 
crime." 
Hall rose promptly. 
"A good idea, Carroll. My car is out- 
side." 

The men strolled to the main room. 
They spoke to various policemen and ig- 
nored a very pointed question from the 



98 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

lips of top Sergeant Larry O'Brien. Or- 
ders were left that no one was to be al- 
lowed to see the girl or Harrelson until 
Hairs return, exception being made in the 
case of Mr. Samuel Denson, Eunice's law- 
yer. As the two men turned toward the 
door, Barrett Rollins rose to greet them. 

"Going?" he queried idly. 

Hall nodded. 

"FU be back." 

"And you, Carroll r 

The little detective smiled genially. 

"Oh, I'm trotting along! Tm afraid 
you knocked my props from under without 
giving me a chance to prove my ability." 

Rollins grinned. 

"Blarney ! Good night to you !" 

"Goodnight!" 

The doorkeeper saluted as they passed 
out, and Hall seated himself at the wheel 
of his giant roadster ; Carroll curled up in 
the deep upholstery beside him. Hall 
pressed the starter, and the rhythmic hum 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 99 

of the motor answered immediately; and 
the car rolled smoothly and silently down 
the tree-lined avenue. 

Neither man spoke. Hall, on his part, 
was busy driving, and his thoughts were 
too wildly chaotic to peraiit of coherent 
reasoning. But Carroll took advantage 
of the sudden removal from the scene of 
police activities to catalog the events of 
the night. 

From a wide macadam roadway, Hall 
braked his car suddenly arid swung in 
through a large, tree-studded lawn. For 
the first time since leaving the police sta- 
tion, Carroll spoke : 

"This is the house?' 

"Yes." 

"Stop a minute, please.'* 

As the car came to a halt a man in civil- 
ian's garb detached himself from the shad- 
ows and joined them. Then he recog- 
nized Hall and saluted punctiliously. 

"Mr. Rollins has three of us detailed 



"» 



SA5\^^ 



BOO SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

here to watch, sir," he explained. "Tw« 
outside and one inside. We're to keep re 
porters away.'' 

Hall nodded. 

"That's right. This is Mr. David Car 
roll. He's in charge of this case and is t« 
have the right of way. You may pass th 
word to the other men on duty here." 

The policeman strode away and the tw< 
men left the automobile and trod the sof 
grass of the lawn. 

To the right of the house there was i 
tennis court and to the left a lawn, dottet 
with trees and bushes, and extending mor 
than two hundred yards to a brick wal 
which dropped sheer on the pavement. 

"Is this the only house on this side o: 
the street?" asked CarrolL "I've beei 
here before, but I didn't notice details." 

"Yes," came the prompt answer. "Th 
house stands about the middle, and th< 
property covers the entire square blocl; 
Hamilton was a very rich man." 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS ;ioil 

''I see. Let's look it over/' 
They walked quietly about the grounds^ 
inspecting every foot of the lawn. Then 
they crossed the lawn and mounted the 
steps which led to the centre of the 
veranda, a veranda different from the 
usual and modeled upon the Southern 
colonial style. 

The front of the residence rose sheer 
from the ground, having merely a small 
flight of steps leading from the walk to 
a small vestibule, but the entire length 
of the house was bounded by the wide 
veranda, which ran the length of the li- 
brary and living room, there to jut in 
with an abrupt L and thence along the 
narrower dining room. 

There were two flights of steps leading 

to the veranda, one midway of its length, 

immediately opposite the head of which 

was the double door letting into the living 

room where the killing occurred. The 

other paralleled the L of the veranda diag- 



102 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

onally opposite the corner of the dining 
room and living room. 

Carroll paced the veranda slowly, then 
shook his head. 

"It's too dark out here, Hall. Suppose 
we go inside and look around.'' 

Hall led the way, made his mission 
known to the policeman on duty inside, 
gave orders that they were not to be dis- 
turbed, and closed the door of the living 
room behind them. 

"Where is the light?'' questioned Car- 
roll with peculiar earnestness. 

Hall scratched a match against his shoe. 
It flickered up quickly, illuminating the 
darkness with a ghastly glare and an ar- 
ray of dancing shadows. Then, guided by 
its feeble light, he walked unerringly 
across the room. His fingers found the 
electric-light switch, pressed it, and the 
room was bathed in light. 

But Carroll was gazing only at the light 
switch. It was the usual two-button af- 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 103 

,1 fair situated midway between an oak-pan-» 
elled door and a large French window near 
y the comer of the room. He questioned 
j quietly: 

"That window leads to the veranda?" 



; "Yes." 

)99 



"And the door?' 
: 'Into the dining room." 

"You are familiar with the house?" 

"Yes." 

"What lies beyond the dining room?" 

"The butler's pantry and the kitchen, 
on this side of the bouse, if that is what 
you mean." 

"Yes — ^that's all Fm interested in at 
present. How far back does the veranda 
run?" 

"To the end of the dining room." 

"Hmm! And didn't I notice a screen 
protecting the comer of the veranda, where 
It juts m? 

"Yes. It has only been up there since 
the beginning of sununer." 



104 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"Grood !" Carroll stared reflectively at 
the little electric buttons, and then al- 
lowed his eyes to rove about the walls. 
"Is there any other electric switch in this 
room?'' 

"No — that is, I am pretty sure there 



isn t. 



Carroll acted without speaking. With 
meticulous care, he searched the walls for 
signs of another electric control button. 
He found none. Nor was there any elec- 
trolier which might have furnished the 
light. Hall caught the trend of his inter- 
est and questioned him : 

"Still harping on that sudden period of 
darkness ?" 

"Yes,'' answered the detective briefly. 
"It strikes me as rather — er — ^peculiar.'' 

Having satisfied himself that there was 
no other electric switch in the room, Car- 
roll walked to the middle and surveyed the 
scene of the killing. 

The room was a large one and very 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 105 

handsomely furnished. In the centre was 
a massive mahogany table on which rested 
a bookrack fitted with legal tomes, vol- 
umes of essays, and the better class of 
literature. On cither side of the table 
were heavy Spanish-leather chairs. On 
the west side of the room, toward the front 
of the house and about the middle of the 
wall, a door opened into the library im- 
mediately opposite the dining-room door. 
In addition to the French window opening 
on the L of the veranda, there was another 
window on the southern side of the room, 
then a big double door — open — ^and a third 
French window. The three windows 
were draped with heavy opaque portieres. 
The portieres covering the two windows 
near the L of the veranda were held back 
by silken cords; those nearest the library 
were hanging straight down. Between 
the comer window and the dining-room 
door stood an ornate but extremely hand- 
some Japanese screen. To this Carroll 



io6 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

made his way. A careful examination dis* 
closed a bullet hole in the screen. He rose 
and measured. 

"'Just about high enough for a bullet 
coming through to have hit Hartigan in the 
wrist/' he observed. "This is quite evi- 
dently the screen behind which Hartigan 
was hidden. The blood traces are still 
here. His story holds good as to those 
features. Now let's see where Hamiltoa 
fell." 

They found the spot on the other side 
of the room near the library door, care- 
fully marked out in chalk and identified 
by the bloodstains. 

"That tallies, too," said Hall. "Espe- 
cially with the stories told by Hartigan 
and Mr. Harrelson. See, the drawer of 
the centre table is open; that's where both 
men say the revolver came from." 

"If you will, Mr. Hall, step behind that 
screen and look at me as I stand here. See 
if you can discern me through the screen." 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 107 

Hall did as bidden and returned in a 
minute. 

"I could see you, but only faintly. The 
screen is nearly opaque, but the bright 
light from the chandelier makes vision pos- 
sible here." 

"Could you see well enough to aim ac- 
curately?" 

"Fm not a good shot. Try it yourself." 

Carroll stepped behind the screen after 
placing Hall in the spot where Hamilton 
fell He found that he could see the po- 
lice commissioner's figure as though in 
silhouette, yet clearly enough for him to 
have shot through the screen with a more 
than even chance of hitting his mark. 

"And," he remarked, half to himself, 
as he came from behind the screen, "Doc- 
tor Robinson was convinced that the bullet 
which killed Hamilton came from a dis- 
tance of twenty or twenty-five feet — or 



more." 



He continued his inspection of the room* 



io8 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

Its two pedestals with their burdens of 
handsome statuary; the well-filled book- 
cases; the three massive portraits in oil 
which decorated the tinted walls. 

Then he crossed the room and entered 
the library. Hall followed and snapped 
on the switch near the door. The room, 
while not as handsomely furnished as the 
living room, was none the less attractive, 
mahogany and dull green throughout. 
The walls, from floor to ceiling, were lined 
with bookcases. It was quite evident that 
the array of books in the living room 
merely represented the overflow from the 
library. The centre table in the library, 
while massive, was different from that in 
the living room. While the latter was an 
ornamental table, the former was strictly 
utilitarian — 2, reading table with book- 
shelves built into the ends and a magazine 
rack for a base. The chairs in the room 
were deeply upholstered, the ornamenta- 
tion sparse but effective. The room, as 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 109 

did the other, denoted the quintessence of 
good taste. As in the living room, the 
library's walls were bedecked with three 
oil portraits. 

There were four windows in the library; 
a French window similar to those in the 
living room giving out onto the veranda 
and three smaller windows overlooking 
the big lawn which gently sloped to the 
tree-lined avenue a hundred yards or so 
before it. There were two doors, the one 
through which the men had entered from 
the living room and another opposite the 
French window. To this Carroll led the 
way. 

He opened it and stepped into the long 
hall, in which a dimmed electric bulb was 
glowing. They made their way down the 
hall, past a flight of steps, to another door. 
Carroll opened that, and, as he expected, 
found that it gave into the living room — 
the room in which Hamilton had been 
killed. A third door farther down the hall 



no SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

opened into the dining room, a fourth into 
the butler's pantry, and a fifth into the 
kitchen. 

The construction of the house on the 
other side of the hall was very similar, al- 
though there was no veranda. The par- 
lour was opposite the library at the front oi 
the house, and behind it the billiard rooncx 
then the storeroom, and behind tha^' 
the simmier kitchen. Carroll questioned 
idly : 

"Hamilton employed how many ser^^.^ 
ants?" 

"Three — exclusive of Mrs. Faber; 
cook, a maid for Miss Eunice, and a bu^ ^ 
ler." 

"What do you know about them?'* 

"Nothing much. The cook has be^* 
with Hamilton for years. The maid 
have seen here for two years at least. TIrm 
butler I believe is a newcomer of the la^ 
few weeks. He's a stranger to me, at an.^ 
rate/' 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS in 

*Td like to speak to the maid/* the de- 
tective announced. 'Tm still puzzled 
over that sudden darkness and the fact 
that we know three revolvers were fired 
and yet the people concerned say that there 
were only two shots. It's possible that 
one of the domestics can throw a little light 
on that phase of the case. Call Rafferty 
from the parlour, will you?'' 

Hall was back in a minute with a big, 
strapping young policeman in tow. He 
was introduced to Carroll as the man in 
charge of the case. 

"You've been here from the first, Raf- 
ferty?" 

"Yis, sor." 

"Have you searched the house?" 

"Yis, sor; with the help av Mrs. Faber, 
sor. 

"A thorough search?" 

The officer flushed slightly. 

"Not pwhat ye might call a thorough 
search, sor. There didn't seem to be 



1 12 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

nothin* special to look for, an' wc just 
looked in the rooms kind of general-like. 
Chief Rollins bein' in charge av the case, 
sor, it seemed like all he wanted us to do 
was to watch ginerally an' leave the close 
hunt to him — for clues and suchlike 
things. That bein' the case, sor, an' Mrs. 
Faber bein' in a hurry an' all excited up, 
we didn't go pokin' around too close." 

'"Very good. And now I want to find 
out something about the servants. [Where 
is the cook?" 

"She's gone for the night, sor. Mrs. 
Faber said it was her night off." 

"Call the maid, then — it isn't her night 
off, is it?' 

"No, sor; that's pwhat made Mrs. Faber 
so mad, sor." 

"What is?" 

"The maid isn't here, sor." 

"What do you mean, isn't here?" 

"Just that, sor. Mrs. Faber said she 
must have taken French leave. She 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKLESS 113 

hunted for her, but she's gone, sor. No- 
body has seen her since the shooting." 

"I see. .Well, the butler. Where is 
he?" 

"That's another funny thing," an- 
nounced Rafferty calmly. "The butler 
has disappeared, top, sor!" 



CHAPTER VII 

CARROLL slowly drew from 
pocket a pipe and a sack of 
bacco. He filled the bowl 2 
tamped it down ; then, with a deliberat 
which played on Hall's nerves, lightec 
and puffed a half dozen times. 

"Explain it, Rafferty!'' he command 
"It's this way, sor. Whin Chief av ] 
tectives Rollins gets out here, he tc 
phones back to headquarters for Serg 
O'Brien to send out three men. I'm s 
out here at wanst with Officers Shorter 2 
Weaver. Whin we get here, Rollins' t 
men is in the paytrol wagon outside, 
he tells us to watch, two outside an' t 
inside, an' to allow no wan but the po] 
departmint to enter. 

"We ask him who is in the house, an' 
says no wan excipt Mrs. Faber, the hoi 

H4 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 115 

keeper, an' that she will soon be Tavin for 

p'lice headquarters, him not sayin' why. 

He says that it is the cook's night off, an' 

whin I ask him about the other servants he 

says he knows nothing about thim, ixcipt 

that Mrs. Faber has towld him that they've 

disappeared. 'They probably heard the 

shootin',' he says to me, just like that, *an' 

^ot scared an' beat it.' Then he goes 

^way in the paytrol with the other fellers 

^n' I'm left here. 

"After a time Mrs. Faber comes down 
Tcady to leave, an' I ask her is she sure the 
louse is empty. She looks at me kinder 
funny, an' is afther sayin' to me, just like 
this : 1 don't know what to make of these 
terrible doin's. Misther Hamilton is kilt 
dead an' the butler an' the maid have dis- 
appeared.' 'Disappeared ?' I questions. 
Twhat are ye afther meanin' be that, 
ma'am?' An' she looks at me like I was 
goin' to do her hurt, an' says to me, just 
like this : T mane pwhat I say. They've 



iii6 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

gone. 'Twas the cook's night out, but the 
maid and the butler should have been in 
their rooms, which same they ain't. Oh, 
dearie me, I don't know pwhat to make av 
it!' And thin she went away, sor, in a 
taxicab which she had called. 

"Them may not have been her ixact 
worruds, sor; but it was about that way. 
She looked terribly cut up an' flustered. 
An' that's all, sor; ixcipt that I took it to 
mesilf to search the house pretty thorough, 
an' I don't be afther findin' no wan. An' 
that's all there is to it." 

Carroll nodded briefly. 

"Thanks, Rafferty. You've done very 
well. Just remain on duty with Weaver 
and Shorter and carry out Chief Rollins' 
instructions. You may go." 

He walked back into the living room 
with Commissioner Hall at his heels. 
The conmiissioner sank weakly into a 
chair. 

"This investigation almost terrifies me," 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 117 

said Hall a bit nervously. "The more we 
investigate the farther away we get from 
a solution. Every place we look, every 
question we ask, develops some new rami- 
fication which bewilders me more. What 
do you make of these disappearances'?'* 

"It's hard to say, Mr. Hall. It might 
mean something and it might be free from 
any significance.'" 

"Damned rot I Begging your pardon, 
Carroll. But you know it is. You cer- 
lainly don't take any stock in Rollins' hap- 
liazard guess that they got frightened at 
the sound of shooting and ran away"?" 

"No-o! I don't believe I do. How- 
ever, anything is possible." 

Hall snapped the end of a big cigar. 

"Sometimes, Carroll, you get on my 
nerves. You talk a heap, but you say 
nothing. Why can't you tell me what 
you think?" 

"Because," explained Carroll simply, 
"two minds are better than one. You 



ii8 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

flatter me by having a pretty good opin- 
ion of my ability as a detective. Very 
well, it follows logically from that prem- 
ise that if I told you what I suspected you 
would lose your individuality of thought 
— and that is the last thing in the world 
I desire. It might be that I am on the 
wrong track altogether, and that your 
mind will strike the correct solution. 
Talk it over with me as much as you like, 
but please don't ask me to tell you what I 
think; it would spoil you as a co-worker." 

"But you do suspect something? You 
have formulated an idea as to who did the 
killing?" 

"To be quite honest, I have not. I 
started off with an idea which, for a long 
time, stubbornly refused to be dismissed, 
but circumstance has piled on circumstance 
so that I am now almost convinced that my 
first idea was absurd. You see, we're 
working reverse English on this case — ^in- 
stead of trying to fasten the guilt on one of 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 119 

three suspects, we're trying to remove it 
from two of them; perhaps from all three 

aad '' 

* 'Meaning that you think Hartigan 
might have done it?'* 

^ 'Might have — certainly. He admits 
enough to make that more than a possibil- 
ity, and I am inclined to consider Harti- 
gari seriously, because he is the one suspect 
wHo denies his guilt. And now" — he rose 
and stretched himself — "it is after two 
o'clock. Let's run back to headquarters 
and see if Mr. Denson has materialized, 
and if he has anything to say. And if not 
— z little sleep will be better for all of us. 
Come!" 

As they started down the walk, Hall 
spoke : 
'*What do you intend to do next?" 
"That depends absolutely on circimi- 
stances. If nothing changes my mind in 
the meanwhile, I shall sleep at headquar- 
ters and tomorrow morning make a trip 



120 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

here with Badger — alone and secretly. X 
shall have Badger enact his story in thaC^ 
room. Then I shall have him held and- 
bring Miss Duval, Mr. Harrelson, and 
Red Hartigan down and let them tell their 
stories separately. I want you here with 
me. And now" — ^he swung open the door 
and leaped into the passenger's seat while 
Hall pressed the starter — "let's make 
speed.'' 

The journey back to the police station 
was made without regard to traffic regu- 
lations. They shot down one street and 
up another at more than thirty-five miles 
an hour, and at length pulled up sharply 
in the glare of the arc light over the portals 
of the police building. They entered 
headquarters. Sergeant O'Brien came 
forward and touched his cap. 

"Mr. Denson, sir, is waiting for Mr. 
Hall." 

"Where?" 

"In the men's rest room, sir." ^ ;_ 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 121 



''Very good, sergeant. Nothing else 
lew?" 

''Not a thing, sir/' 

"Chief Rollins has not interviewed the 
prisoners?'' 

"No, sir; he's already turned in for the 
light." 

"Very good. That will do." 

Hall led the way into the Fest room, 
vhere, an hour and a half before, they had 
nterviewed Rollins and Hartigan. As 
liey entered the lawyer rose and came for- 
ward to greet them, his forehead puckered 
"or a moment with doubt, and then clear- 
ng as he recognized David Carroll. 

He was a sharp-eyed, competent-look- 
ng man of medium height and build. He 
lad the habit of gazing at one levelly from 
)ehind tortoise-rimmed goggles which 
;omehow managed to impart to his visage 
I hawklike cast. His manner of speech 
A^as sharp to a fault; he did not waste 
ivords — and yet, despite a natural reserve. 



122 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

he was patently overwrought by the events 
of the night. 

"Mr. Hall/* he said, as he extended his 
hand, "I can't tell you how glad I am that 

you are here. And Mr. Carroll " 

He paused interrogatively. 

"Is in absolute charge of the case.*' 

"I'm glad of that. I know it is in good 
hands.*' 

The two men shook hands, and Hall 
stared at them curiously. 

"I didn't know that you knew one an- 
other, Denson." 

Denson nodded. 

"Carroll has been working for Hamilton 
on that civic case. Met him at Hamil- 
ton's oiBce two or three times." 

"I see. And now, Denson — ^what?" 

Denson looked first at one and then at 
the other. It was plain that he was a bit 
afraid — that he was weighing his words 
carefully. Carroll interpreted his silence. 

"I know you're wondering about Miss 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 123 

Duval, Mr. Denson. Let me say right 
here that we know everything that she has 
to say — except the details. I will also tell 
you everything else we know about the 
case — '' and he launched into a recital of 
the confession of the girl, the young artist 
— ^Harrelson; of Badger, and of the cap- 
ture of Hartigan by Rollins ; of their visit 
to the house, and of the mysterious disap- 
pearance of both the maid and the butler. 
"I'm telling you all this," he finished, 
'^because we wish to enlist your aid. You 
were the lawyer of the dead man and 
are the attorney for Miss Duval, his 

ward " 

"And for Vincent Harrelson.^' 
"A-a-h! I didn't know that.'' 
^Tfes, the lad has been a sort of pro- 
tege of mine, which was one bone of con- 
tention between Mr. Hamilton and mv- 
sclf." 

"Mr. Hamilton disliked him keenly, did 
he not?" 



124 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

The gazes of the two men clashed. 

*'How far can I trast myself to tell the 
truth, Carroll?' 

"This far: I have made you the third 
person to possess the full knowledge of 
the case. That I have done it with a rea- 
son goes without saying, and basically that 
reason is that we need your help to get at 
the bottom of the matter. Being a lawyer, 
you know two things ; one, that it would be 
hard for any jury to convict Miss Duval 
of the crime if she says anything at all in 
her own defence — ^no matter how slightly 
extenuating the circumstances might have 
been. Secondly, if Harrelson's story is 
true^ it was a clear case of self-defence. 
Therefore, you see that if either or both is 
telling the truth all we have to do to clear 
them is to find out which is which. It is 
obvious that only one person killed Ham- 
ilton ; and, according to their stories, either 
will be cleared. Mind you, I am saying 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 125 

' their stories are trae — ^and always pro- 
ided that if Miss Duval did it that it was 
ot clear murder!'* 

"Carroll/' broke in Hall sharply, "that's 
orrible ! You know '' 

"I know nothing! I am laying the 
irds on the table face up for Mr. Den- 
m to play or not, as he sees fit. I tell 
ou this, Denson — ^I have trusted you this 
ir: no one save you, Mr. Hall, and my- 
ilf know anything about Badger's con- 
ection with the case. He is the trump 
ird that I am keeping from the police de- 
artment. I have him under the private 
iirveillance of a member of the force who 
; a very particular friend of mine, and 
^ho can be trusted implicitly to carry out 
ly orders. It would bother me consider- 
bly if the police department — ^meaning 
lollins, who is in charge of the case for it 
-knew of Badger's story or of his con- 
^ssion. I've played straight across the 



126 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

board ; are you going to help Mr. Hall ai 
myself, knowing that we're driving at tl 
strict truth, or are you going to trust 
your single wits to clear your clients wit 
out help?' 

"Give me a minute, Carroll." T 
lawyer rose and stepped to the windo 
For perhaps five minutes he stood motio 
Jess. Then he turned on his heel ai 
came back to the table. His hand we 
out and gripped Carroll's. "If you ai 
Hall are not on the level, Carroll, then : 
one is. In some cases a man has to take 
chance. I'm taking mine here and nc 
with you. I promise to withhold nothi; 
— ^however danming it may seem." 

"Good ! I expected as much, Mr. Dc 
son. And now let's sit down and talk tl 
thing over. In the first place, you ha 
never answered my question; did Ham 
ton dislike Harrelson very keenly?" 

^Tes." 

"Did he hate him?" 






U 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 127 

Denson flushed slightly. 

"Mr. Hamilton was a man of powerful 
passions. I believe he did." 

"And you say that Harrelson was a pro- 
tege of yours; what was his attitude to- 
ward Hamilton?" 

He " Denson broke off shortly. 

all, sir, I'm trusting you with a 
great deal of information! However — 
w-ell^ Harrelson is an impulsive, head- 
strong youth, and he detested Mr. Ham- 
ilton." 

"Have you any theories as to the rea- 
son?' 

"Yes — ^but they are theories/* 

"We would like to know them.'* 

"Vincent Harrelson is secretly engaged 
to Miss Duval. He had a wild idea that 
M^r. Hamilton was in love with her him- 
self, and wished to marry her." 

"I see. And now this : In your opin- 
ion, is Vincent Harrelson the type of 
young man to have shouldered the bur- 



128 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

den of Miss DuvaFs guilt, provided he is 
convinced that she is guilty of the kill- 
mgf 

Denson pondered. 

"I believe he is, but I am not sure. The 
boy's one weakness is a lack of decision. 
I should say, too, that he has a selfish trait. 
On the other hand, I would volunteer the 
opinion that if he had really committed the 
crime and knew that Miss Duval were sus- 
pected he would confess his guilt.'* 

"Good! That's fine! You have talked 
with Miss Duval, haven't you?" 

"Yes." 

"Do you believe she shot Hamilton?" 

"I can't answer that — really." 

"Please. I assure you we are as anx- 
ious to clear Miss Duval as you can pos- 
sibly be." 

"I believe you are. Well, foolish as it 
may be f oi;; me to confess it, I really believe 
Miss Duval shot Mr. Hamiltorir 

There was a long silence, punctured 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 129 

only by the insistent ticking of the clock. 
Denson mopped a perspiring forehead. 

'Tve never done such a damnably fool 
thing in my life !" he burst out. "It — it's 
— unprofessional, unethical. Miss Duval 
is my client. Mr. Harrelson is my friend 
as well as my client. And " 

''We are your friends, too," said Hall 
softly. "'We must get at the truth some 
way — ^you know that we will. The con- 
fession of either is all that a court needs, 
you are simply expediting matters.'' 

Here Carroll broke in again : 

"I want you to do something, Mr. Den- 
son — to show you how we trust your alli- 
ance with us. Miss Duval knows nothing 
about Hartigan's implication in the case. 
Go to her and tell her that we have the man 
who committed the crime. Tell her that 
he is a notorious burglar who fired from 
behind the Japanese screen in the living 
room; that the circumstantial evidence is 
sufficient to send him to the electric chair. 



130 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

Ask her whether she will not, in view of 
these new developments, withdraw her 
confession/' 

"That's white!*' said Denson simply 
and left the room. For the following ten 
minutes Carroll smoked in silence. And 
then the door opened and Denson re-en- 
tered. He looked harried and worn. 

"Well?" 

"She said," replied Denson slowly, 
"that she doesn't care anything about Red 
Hartigan or any one else. She insists that 
she killed Mr. Hamilton I" 



fc 



CHAPTER Vin 

CARROLL did not raise his eyes 
from the table, and Hall, follow- 
ing his lead, remained silent. 
Denson, still a bit shaken, seated himself 
again, and at length the silence -grew too 
much for him. "Well, what about it f he 
rasped. 

Hall looked toward Carroll. 
"What about it?' he echoed. 
Carroll shook his head. 
"I don't know. What Mr. Denson 
tells me bears out my own theory to a 
certain extent." 
"Which is '' 



"That Miss Duval really tliinks she 
killed Hamilton." 

"But, good God," burst out Denson 
querulously, "don't you suppose that a 
person knows when he kills another? 

I3i 



132 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

How can there be a doubt about a thing 
Uke that?" 

"It was dark in that room/* explained 
Carroll quietly, "for about six seconds. 
When we find out who turned off the 
lights and why, we'll be closer to a solu- 
tion. Until then — ^well, there is one thing 
certain, more than one person fired.*' 

"Yes,V said Hall, "three fired. We 
have the three revolvers — Mr. Hamilton's, 
which both Miss Duval and Harrelson 
claim to have used; that of this man Har- 
tigan, and Badger's. All are police re- 
volvers." 

"That's a rather far-fetched coinci- 
dence, isn't it?" questioned Denson. 

"Ye-e-s; but so is the triple shooting. 
I gave Hamilton his weapon some time 
ago; he had a ridiculous, rusty old ,32 
which I used to joke him about. One day 
he jocularly remarked that if I didn't like 
it I could give him another, and that's how 
he happened to get a regulation revolver. 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 133 

I liked it and bought one. Badger bought 
his from a pawnshop where some police- 
man evidently pawned it in sudden need 
for money. And Hartigan " 

"And Hartigan?" prompted Carroll. 

"Probably got his from a pawnshop, too, 
knowing that it is an efficient weapon. 
It's funny, though ^' 

"Danmed funny!" snapped Denson. 
"Especially as only two shots were fired. 
How do you tally that with the three 
empty revolvers?" 

"There are two solutions," replied Car- 
roll deliberately. "The first is that two 
shots were fired simultaneously — or so 
closely together that the reverberation in 
this room caused the hearers to think that 
it was one shot ; the second following right 
afterward. The other solution is that — 
only two shots were fired T 

"Only two shots? ,We have the three 
revolvers." 

Carroll smiled. 



134 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"That is only an idea, probably absurd 
My first theory may be the correct one. 
But we'll take that up later. Meanwhile, 
Mr. Denson, didn't I understand that yoa 
visited Hamilton tonight?" 

"Yes." 

"Why?" 

"The call was partly social and partly 
a business affair. The business end of 5- 1 
had to do with some affidavits I was geC:^- 
ting for him in this Civic League worlc:- 
And after what I saw there tonight I aoa 
trebly unable to believe that Miss Duval 
shot him." 

"There was no trouble between Mr. 
Hamilton and Miss Duval tonight?" 

"Nothing unusual. She has never 
liked him. What I'm driving at is 
Badger." 

"What about Badger?" 

"The truth of the story he tells. You 
see, gentlemen, I was there when Badger 
threatened to kill Hamilton !" 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 135 

"A-a-h!'' Carroll leaned forward ea- 
gerly, "You hadn't mentioned that.'* 

^Tve been trying to sift things for my- 
self; trying to know what facts to tell and 
what to conceal. Now, since Tm telling 
everything — ^both helpful and detrimental 
to my clients — ^I may as well tell what hap- 
pened when I visited there tonight." 

'Tf-e-s/' said Carroll, "please." 

"I had telephoned Mr. Hamilton that 
I was coming down with those affidavits 
to talk things over with him. Shortly 
after I got there — and up to that time our 
talk had been purely social — ^Miss Duval 
came in. She was in evening dress, just 
as she is now. We rose, and Hamilton 
asked her where she was going. She re- 
plied that she was going out with Harrel- 
son. Hamilton flushed and reminded her 
that he had forbidden Harrelson to the 
house. She flared up, trying not to show 
it too much before me, and said that she 
was over twenty-one years of age and 



136 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

would not be dictated to. Hamilton re- 
plied that he didn't carei to discuss the mat- 
ter, but that he did not intend to have 
Harrelson visit the house nor allow her to 
go out with him. She swept out of the 
room, furiously angry. 

'"When she had gone, I asked Hamilton 
why he was so hard on the boy. 'Denson,^ 
he said quietly, 'you cannot understand. 
You may think it is — oh, any one of sev- 
eral things! You look at .Harrelson 
through rose-coloured glasses. You like 
him for the very things I dislike in him. 
He is idealistic and impractical. He 
makes a pittance with his daubing, and 
will not work for a living. Why should 
I stand by and see such a girl throw herself 
away on that sort of man? I don't like 
him personally; but if he was half a man I 
wouldn't stand in their way. But, by 
God,' and he slammed his fist on the table, 
'so long as he remains as worthless as he is 
I'll keep him out of this house, no matter 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 137 

to what lengths rm forced! I assumed 
responsibility with that girl, and I'll shoul- 
der it in full/ 

"It was, gentlemen,'' continued Benson, 
"a rather embarrassing subject to me and 
to hinL Especially as he knew that I am 
very fond of the lad and am familiar with 
his impulsive, headstrong nature. So I 
tried to turn the subject back to the Civic 
Reform League work. Just as we got 
launched on that there were loud voices in 
the hall, and finally the butler entered." 

"The butler?'* questioned Hall inter- 
estedly. 

"Donaldson, his name is," replied Den- 
son. "I think he has only been with Ham- 
ilton a few weeks. Anyway, Donaldson 
said that there was a little man who acted 
very peculiarly and insisted on seeing 
Hamilton ; that he thought it was the man 
whom Hamilton had given him orders not 
to admit, but that he had forced his way 
into the house. Hamilton shrugged and 



138 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

told Donaldson to let the man in. The 
man was Badger/' 

"You know something of his past deal- 
ings with Badger — as his lawyer?" ques- 
tioned Carroll. 

"Yes. It dates back fully fifteen years. 
Badger, I take it, was one of those failures 
who have squandered a life looking for 
sudden riches. It seems that fifteen years 
or so ago some one took him in with a sale 
of oil lands. Badger sunk all his money 
— and he had several thousand dollars — ^in 
the purchase of these lands. He came to 
Hamilton — ^you know Hamilton has al- 
ways had a weakness for listening to wild- 
cat schemes — and convinced him that he — 
Badger — ^had sunk every dollar into the 
scheme. He wanted money to develop 
the land, and Hamilton reasoned, against 
my advice, that if Badger believed in it 
sufficiently to put in all of his money, 
Hamilton might take a chance. 

"So Hamilton sent experts down to in- 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 139 

vcstigate. They reported, as I remember 
it, that there was oil in the land, but that 
there was small likelihood of striking suf- 
ficient of it to make drilling operations 
worth while. Against their advice and 
against mine, he sank about twenty thou- 
sand dollars in it. A company was in- 
corporated with Hamilton holding fifty- 
one per cent, of the stock and Badger forty- 
nine per cent. After spending all that 
money and getting aknost no oil, Hamil- 
ton quit. 

"Badger, meanwhile, had seen visions 
of millions. I believe he was always half 
cracked. He insisted that Hamilton was 
trying to wrest all the land from him be- 
fore working it; ridiculous logic as it was, 
Hamilton could never convince him that 
the proposition was really a failure. 
Badger has hounded the man for fifteen 
years, demanding back his land or his 
money. And Hamilton, gentlemen, was 
scrupulous to a fault in business matters. 



140 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

He refused point-blank. That was his 
way, and he could not be blamed. He had 
invested twenty thousand dollars in the 
scheme. At any rate, the idea that Ham- 
ilton had robbed him of a fortune became 
a monomania with Badger. It has been 
growing worse and worse. Hamilton has 
tried every method of pacifying him, but 
the development of the mania has been 
shown by Badger's increasingly ridiculous 
demands — ^he recently had been insisting 
that Hamilton pay him twenty-five thou- 
sand dollars ! Absurd, of course. 

"Until a couple of months ago Hamil- 
ton has been indulgent, has loaned the man 
money which he knew would, never be 
returned, and has always granted him 
an audience. But the man's wild-eyed 
vituperation got on his nerves, and for 
jsome time he has refused to see him. I 
can produce a dozen witnesses — ^lawyers, 
most of them — to whom Badger has gone 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 141 

for advice, and in whose presence he has 
threatened Hamilton's life. 

"He came into the room and Hamilton 
dismissed Donaldson. And, gentlemen, 
if ever I saw the light of insanity in a 
man's eyes, it was in Badger's. He talked 
incoherently and made wild gestures. He 
cursed Hamilton in the worst billingsgate. 
And Hamilton grew angry. He ordered 
the man out of the house. With that 
Badger waved his arms and shrieked 
'You'll be sorry ! You'll be sorry for this^ 
you bloodsucker ! You'd better pay mt 
or I'll kill you!' 

"Hamilton rose. 'Get out of hen 
and get quick!' he snapped. 

"TU kill you!' 

"'Get out!' 

"Badger turned to me. Tfou heard me 
warn him!' he said levelly. 'You heard 



me!' 



Don't be a fool, Badger,' I said 



142 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

kindly, rather sorry for the crazy old fel- 
low. * You' 11 get yourself in trouble' \^ 
Hamilton swung on me. 

" *This is my affair, Denson. Tvc 
stood all I'm going to stand from this man. 
I'm done with him.' Then he called Don- 
aldson and Badger left — ^meekly enough 
and without further threats. When h^ 
had gone, Hamilton laughed shortly. 

" *He carried it too far tonight,' he r^" 
marked. Tm through with him.' An^ 
then we both put the incident aside, recl^" 
oning Badger a crazy man and one not t^ 
be feared. And that is all there is to m^ 
story. I left a few minutes later, heion^ 
Harrelson arrived. I went to his board-^ 
ing house, thinking to find him there anci 
ask him not to go to Hamilton's home- 
But when I got there he had gone, and I 
forgot the whole thing until I heard the 
news of Hamilton's death and the request 
that I come to see Miss Duval at the sta- 
tion here." 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 143 

There was a minute of silence. And 
then Hall broke it : 

"That story tallies perfectly with Badg- 



er s. 



€(' 



'Yes/' agreed Carroll. "Almost too 
well. The farther we get into the case the 
more convinced we become that three of 
our four possibilities killed Hamilton — it 
is certain that the story of either Miss Du- 
val or this chap Harrelson is untrue. We 
know that only one of them actually did 
it." 

There came a discreet rap at the door, 
and in response to Hall's response Ser- 
geant Larry O'Brien entered. In his 
hands he carried copies of the two morning 
newspapers. 

"I was afther thinkin' ye'd loike to see 
pwhat the papers have to say about the 
murder, sors." He extended the dailies to 
Hall. 

"Thanks, Larry." 

The men grouped about the table and 



144 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

Hall spread the News face upward. Sev- 
en-column headlines screamed the news of 
the sensational murder in forty-eight-point 
type. They glanced through the article 
swiftly and Carroll smiled. 

"Barrett Rollins engineered the report- 
ers cleverly/' he remarked, after glancing 
at the other paper. "Not a word about 
either Miss Duval or Mr. Harrelson." 
He turned to O'Brien. "Did Chief Rol- 
lins leave any instructions regarding the 
news to be given to reporters?'' he asked. 

"Sure an' he did, sor. He said that no 
wan on the force was to say a worrud about 
Miss Duval or the young gintleman, sor. 
Though 'tis my opinion that 'twill leak out 
and be in the avenin' papers tomorry." 

"How about your docket? Aren't their 
names entered here ?" 

"Only Hartigan's, sor. The others 
have been kept on private memorandum.'^ 

"Good! Keep it mum as long as you 
can." 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 145 

The stories of the two newspapers tal- 
lied as to facts, although they varied as to 
floridity of style. Both told of the kill- 
ing, mentioned Red Hartigan as th,e mur- 
derer, described the finding of the evidence 
by the wonderful efforts of Chief of Detec- 
tives Rollins, and wound up with a state- 
ment that police headquarters refused to 
allow them to interview the man. There 
was no mention of any other person in the 
case. Separate stories in both newspapers 
Were devoted to Hartigan's lurid criminal 
record and to Edward J. Hamilton's life. 

"So far so good,'* said Carroll, folding 

liis paper and stuffing it in his coat pocket. 

**That was a very wise move Rollins made, 

a^lthough I'm very much afraid we shall not 

l>e able to keep Miss Duval's name out of 

tie public prints. At any rate — we'll try. 

The evening papers will have more time 

to work the story. And now — ^I think a 

little sleep will do us all good. As for me, 

rU have a cot brought in here.** 



146 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"And I," remarked Hall, "will remain 
widi you/' 

*T11 go home," said Denson, "with the 
express understanding that I'm to be called 
if needed." 

"Good I" They rose and shook hands. 
As they started toward the door it opened 
and Larry O'Brien poked his head in. 

"Beg pardon, sors, but Red Hartigan is 
begging hard to see Mr. Hall. He says he 
has a confession to make." 

Hall turned away abruptly. Denson 
stared in petrified amazement. Only Car- 
roll retained his facial composure and or- 
dered the man brought in. 

"Good Lord !" gasped Hall. "Is it pos- 
sible that this man, too, is about to tell us 
that he murdered Hamilton?" 

"I hope so," said Denson briefly. "Id 
like to believe that he did it." 

Hartigan was brought before them and 
O'Brien dismissed with orders to wait just 
outside the door, and to allow no one to 






SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 147 

enter. The man's face was set with the 
pain of his injured wrist, and he stared at 
the trio defiantly. 

*Td like to spill this to you /w^/' he said 
dgnificantly. He was plainly nonplussed 
at Denson's presence. Carroll reassured 
him: 

^Tfou wanted to tell us '^ 

I been thinkin' it over," said Hartigan, 
an' it struck me that I'm in a pretty bad 
way in this mess. I didn't kill the ol' duck 
— so help me! I didn't — an' I gets to 
thinkin' to meself that if you was to find 
out I lied about somethin' you'd think I 
lied about the whole thing, so I've come to 
make a clean breast." 

"You mean you killed Hamilton?" 
burst out Hall. 

"Na-al I don't mean no thin' of the 
kind. The story I told you was true s' 
far's it went. But there was one thing I 
didn't mention." He paused. 

"Which was?" prompted Carroll. 



148 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"You remember/' continued the big 
man, ''that I told you the lights went off 
just before I was shot?" 

"Yes." 

"Well — what I didn't tell you was this; 
Fm the man that turned them offT 



CHAPTER IX 

FOR the first time since assuming 
charge of the case, David Carroll 
exhibited stark surprise. And 
no wonder — for all of Carroll's theories re- 
garding the shooting had been predicated 
3n the sudden extinguishing of the lights, 
^d here, by a word. Red Hartigan, bur- 
glar, knocked the foundation from under 
lis carefully builded case. 

Nor did he conceal his surprise ; the look 
>f dismay on his face caused Hall to 
:huckle grimly. 

"At least you're human, Carroll. 
Heretofore, I've been the one to gape at 
lews." 

"It is rather — er — ^bewildering,'* said 
Carroll, after a short pause for the selec- 
tion of the most apt word. Then, regain- 

IdQ 



150 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

ing his poise and clipping off his words in- 
cisively, he swung on Hartigan. 

"Hartigan," he said, "you are confess- 
edly a crook and a liar. Are you telling 
ithe truth now, or did some one get to you?' 

The big man was plainly puzzled. 

"Get to me? How could any one do 
that? Ain't I been under guard, huh? 
What I'm tellin' you now is the Gawd's 
truth ; you can take it or leave it, but all 
the clever prosecutin' attoneys in the world 
can't shake my story now — because it's 
true." 

"Tell us about it." 

"It's just like I told you afore. I was 
making a get-away with the boodle, and I 
come into the room from the dinin' room, 
where I'd copped some silver for good 
measure. The room was all lit up, an', 
thinkin' I heard the sound of a scrap in the 
next room, I hopped behind the screen. 
It was pretty dark back there, an' I knowed 
they'd never spot me, an' I could see sorter 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 151 

hazylike through — the light bein' on that 
side. 

"Then I was sure there was men quar- 
rellin', an' all of a suddint a girl comes 
from behind the portieres over the big win- 
der on the other side of the door leadin' to 
the porch — the one leadin' to the next room 
— opens an' the big guy an' the little feller 
come out, fightin'. The little man makes 
a grab for a paper weight or somethin', an' 
the big feller gets it away. That's where 
I begin to think it's a swell chancst for me 
to make my get-away while everything's 
excitement. Of course I've spotted the 
switch right near the screen — so I says to 
meself , why not switch 'em all off, make a 
break through the winder behind me, which 
is half open, an' beat it? They don't 
know I'm there, y'see, an' they'd never sus- 
pect nothin'. An' my pal's waitin' in the 
garden yonder, an' th' other feller is goin' 
out the front door; two of us havin' been 
workin' inside an' one outside. 



152 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"I keep me eyes sharp on the scrap, an', 
believe me, they're goin' to it ! Just as I 
reach out for the switch I see the little fel- 
ler grab a gun outa th' table drawer, an' th' 
big man knocks it outa his hand. They all 
make a dive for it, big feller, little feller, 
an' th' girl. I snap off the light — ^flooie! 
just like that. 

"Just then there's two shots; where 
from, I don't know. I feel this pain, hot 
an' burnin'like, in my hand, an' I know a 
bullet's got me. But I know that there 
wasn't no one shoo tin' at me. Then I get 
sick all of a sudden, an' I know I'm gonna 
fall. Well, I thinks, if I fall down they'll 
come over to switch on th' lights, an' they'll 
spot me. So I reaches over, snaps 'em on 
again, an' lays meself down. Next I 
know Rollins has me in the horspital. An' 
that's all." 

"No, that's not alV 

"S'help me, it is." 

"Listen to common sense, Hartigan. 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 153 

You know as well as I do that we've got 
you dead to rights with enough evidence to 
hang you higher than a kite. Now come 
clean, and maybe we'll see our way to let- 
ting you off on a burglary charge without 
mentioning murder. Who were your 
pals?" 

A peculiar look flashed into the burglar's 
eyes. 

"You ain't no reg'lar bull, are youse, 
boss?" 

"No. Why?" 

"Because," answered the man with quiet 
dignity, "if you was you'd know better 
than to ask Red Hartigan to squeal on a 
pal!" 

Carroll pondered. Here he was balked 
in this new line of search by a cul-de-sac of 
a crook's honour; a man who would steal 
and who would lie, but who steadfastly re- 
fused to violate the one immutable tenet 
of his profession — a man who would not 
squeal. Carroll nodded briefly : 



154 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"That's all; you can go back to your 
cell." 

Hartigan started forward. 

"I want you to b'lieve what I toF ye, 
boss. It's the honest-t'-Gawd truth 
and " 

'Tvt doubted the truth from lips of bet-^ 
ter men than you, Hartigan." He opened- 
the door. "O'Brien!" 

"Yis, sor." The head of the sergeant 
appeared as though by magic. 

"Take this man back to his cell and see 
to it that he talks to no one — except, of 
course. Chief Rollins." 

"About reporters, sor?" 

"Not a word is to be said to any one of 
them. We'll give them the story in time. 
And when you're relieved in the morning 
tell Ryall — ^he's day sergeant, isn't he?" 

"Yis, sor, he is." 

"What you know of the case; and give 
him the same orders I've given you. 
That's all." 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 155 

At the door, Hartigan turned. 

"I ain't used to you fancy bulls," he shot 
vindictively at Carroll. "A regular one 
"would know when I was tellin' the truth. 
JVe said all I got to say — an' be damned 
xo you !'' 

The door closed behind sergeant and 
X>risoner. It was Denson who questioned 
C!arroll first. 

""Do you believe his story?" 

"As much as I believe any story I have 
lieard so far. But it is a dangerous thing 
To believe the word of that type of man. 
They're uncannily clever at simulation of 
innocence, and he, knowing nothing else of 
^e case, feels that his neck is in a noose. 
.And he's liable to think up a mighty clever 
story." 

"And you mustn't forget," reminded 
Hall, "that a revolver, with one chamber 
exploded, was found in his coat pocket." 

Denson shook his head. 

"The whole thing is beyond me. Fd 



156 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

better be going home. Remember, you 
gentlemen have both promised to tele- 
phone me if there are any new develop- 
ments." 

They saw him out, and then returned to 
the rest room, where they had two regula- 
tion iron cots brought down and made up. 
They left instructions with O'Brien that 
they were to be called on the slightest 
provocation, and gradually they dropped 
off to sleep. 

Hall was the first to wake. For a min- 
ute he stared blinkingly at his unusual sur- 
roundings, and then, slowly, recollection 
of the kaleidoscopic happenings of the 
previous night returned to his mind. In 
the cold, sober light of early morning, 
the events following Hamilton's killing 
seemed like a horrible nightmare from 
which one must waken slowly. 

He lay on his cot and stared at the som- 
bre ceiling of the headquarters' rest room. 
Once he heard some one try the knob and 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 157 

the voice of a policeman, evidently on spe- 
cial duty, warning the would-be intruder 
that he'd get busted high as Haman if he 
butted in on the police commissioner. 

He could hear a buzzing of conversa- 
tion in the hall outside, then the heavy 
tread of many feet on the stairs, followed 
by silence; then a sharp barking of answers 
as the day sergeant called the roll of the 
new patrol; then the incisive commands 
for inspection, and finally the opening of 
the street door and the solemn filing out of 
the uniformed guardians of the city's 
peace- All in a day's work to these men — 
tragedies such as that of the previous 
night« The latest was more sensational, 
perhaps, and rather closer to the bosom of 
the police department; but murder, rob- 
bery — ^nothing for a professional police- 
man to lose his head over. 

He turned on his side, and his eyes 
rested on the figure of David Carroll. 
For a second he winked unbelievingly — it 



158 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

was incomprehensible that the smooth, 
slender, boyish face on the cot beside his 
belonged to one of the best detectives in 
the country; a man gentle of manner and 
modest of demeanour; fair to a fault, and 
with a code of honour as rigid and unshak- 
able as the Rock of Gibraltar; a man who 
faced the worst risks cheerfully and 
quietly; who, in the midst of excitement, 
kept his head where others lost theirs — 
weighing, always weighing, fact and cir- 
cumstance, person and personality. 

Carroll smiled gently in his sleep; his 
face that of a dreamer, rather ascetic in the 
rigidity of some lines and poetic in the 
softness of others. Yet that was the man 
who, with some, the night before, had been 
austere, commanding, domineering al- 
most ; with others patient to a degree, tact- 
ful, retiring. 

Of a sudden Carroll was awake. He 
rubbed his knuckles into his eyes, sat up in 
bed, and smiled cheerily at Hall. From 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 159 

the instant that his lids popped open there 
was no hint of bewilderment in his man- 
ner; rather, there was an almost uncanny 
righting of himself to surroundings. 

"How do you do it?" asked Hall. 

"What?" 

"Remember it all — on the instant?" 

"It's my profession," answered Carroll 
simply. 

He leaped nimbly from the bed, slipped 
the length of the rest room, where he 
cracked open a door, took a careful survey, 
and motioned Hall to follow him into the 
shower room. The police commissioner 
satisfied himself with a warm spray, but 
Carroll ignored the handle marked "Hot" 
and stepped under the icy cascade with a 
grunt of satisfaction. 

His skin glowed pinkly in the morning 
light, and the easy-writhing play of his 
muscles under the.satiny flesh gave an im- 
pression of physical strength which his 
clothes hid completely. And finally they 



i6o SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

were dressed and munching a coarse breaks- 
fast served them by the barracks' dief. 
That finished, they lighted cigars and 
seated themselves in the rest room. Car- 
roll came straight to the point : 

"Three of the best detectives I know 
will be here this morning to help me. One 
of them will be placed in charge of Miss 
Duval, one of Harrelson, and one of 
Badger. Hartigan I will leave to the ten- 
der mercies of the police department. 
Hello, Denson — ^you're early!" 

Denson shook hands briefly. 

"Didn't know I had nerves," he 
grunted, '%ut last night made things seem 
creepy. Couldn't sleep — worse luck. 
Took a cold dip and came on down. Any- 
thing new*?" 

"Nothing. Have you had breakfast?" 

"Coffee and rolls; didn't want anything 
else. What's first on the program?" 

"To the house with Badger." Carroll 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 161 

glanced out of the window. "My men are 
coming now — ^good !" 

Carroirs three men proved to be mild- 
mannered young giants of placid counte- 
nances. He introduced them briefly — 
Roberts, Smith, and Johnson, three men 
with whom, as he briefly explained, he had 
worked some of his most difficult cases; 
men who could be trusted absolutely to 
keep silent regarding what they knew and 
to ask no questions about what they didn't. 
He accompanied them from the room and 
assigned them to their tasks; Roberts as 
special custodian for Frederick Badger; 
Johnson to be with Eunice Duval, and 
Smith with Harrelson. No one was to 
speak to the prisoners, he informed them; 
least of all, Barrett Rollins. Then he 
spoke to Hall, had the commissioner's au- 
tomobile — a touring car had been brought 
down in place of the roadster which still 
lay parked in the street — ^backed up 



i62 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

against the back door of headquarters, and 
within five minutes the car, containing 
Carroll, Roberts, Badger, Hall, and Den- 
son, was speeding, with top up and cur- 
tains drawn, toward Hamilton's home. 

Immediately on his arrival, Carroll sum- 
moned the three policemen who had main- 
tained the night vigil at the house. In 
response to his query as to their physical 
condition, they confessed that they had di- 
vided the night into three watches, two 
sleeping at a time, so that they felt fairly 
fresh. Carroll stationed the trio at the 
two entrances to the ground with strict or- 
ders that no one, even from the p'olice de- 
partment, was to be admitted without first 
summoning him. Then the car purred 
into the spacious grounds, beautiful now 
in the bright sun of a clear, summer day- 
It stopped under the shadow of a spread- 
ing elm, and the passengers alighted. 

Badger, small, insignificant looking, 
and a bit frightened at the secrecy which 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 163 

had enshrouded their movements, glanced 
about apprehensively. Carroll spoke 
with him : 

"You still stick to your story of last 
night, Mr. Badger?'' 

The little man looked at him out of his 
meek, mild, inquiring blue eyes. 

"Why, yes; why shouldn't I? It's 
true." 

"I thought perhaps you'd like to retract 
your confession?" 

"No-o. That wouldn't be any use, 
would it?" 

The man was pitiful ; the watchers felt 
a profound sympathy for him. That such 
a meek man should have been inspired to 
deliberate murder — it was unbelievable 
that he was not mentally deficient. 

"We're going to do what we can for you, 
Mr. Badger," said Carroll kindly. "Of 
course I can promise you nothing; if you 
are guilty, you must suffer. But, above 
all, you must be honest. What I want 



i64 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

you to do now is to rc-cnact the scene last 
night from the time you entered the 
grounds imtil you left them. Here" — ^he 
thrust into the little wizened hands an 
empty revolver, the very one Badger had 
used the previous night — "go right ahead, 
just as you did last night." 

Badger gazed appealingly from one to 
the other. 

"What's the use of it?" he questioned 
vaguely. "Haven't I told you I killed 
him?" 

"Yes," said Carroll gently, "but we are 
rather puzzled about the case. There are 
three punishments for killing a man; the 
crime may be murder, it may be man- 
slaughter, or it may be plain homicide — 
and the latter may be justifiable. We 
will watch you. You'll do it, won't 
you?" 

"Yes," agreed the little old man tim- 
idly, "I'll do it, but I don't see what it's 
all about.'* 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 165 

"It's to find out what you really did do." 

"Very well." Badger clutched the re- 
volver tightly in his two hands, a fact 
at which Carroll nodded significantly. 
Then, quite abruptly, his expression 
changed as he entered into the spirit of the 
play. 

The benign, harmless look in his eyes 
gave way as he walked across the lawn to 
a crafty, foxlike, wholly demented expres- 
sion. His little shoulders hunched, and 
he minced stealthily. 

He led the way around to the rear of 
the house, walking rather pridefuUy, as 
though the dramatic elements of the pan- 
tomime, with himself in the centre of the 
stage, appealed to him. He indicated a 
broken place in the wall which fronted on 
the back street. 

"I climbed over there," he chuckled fox- 
ily, "so that no one could see me." 

He walked halfway to the wall and then 
whirled. 



i66 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"'When I got to here," he explained, "I 
got down on my hands and knees — so." 

Thereafter he acted without speaking. 
Slowly and quietly he crawled toward the 
rear of the house, pausing every minute or 
two to glance cautiously about. The re- ^ 
volver he had thrust into the pocket of his 
shiny old coat. The balmy breeze of the 
early morning ruffled the silky strands of 
snowy hair about his temples. Only the 
now bitter expression of his face was there 
to give plausibility to the fact that he was 
re-enacting a murder. 

He approached the southeast comer of 
the house, flattened himself against the 
wall, and slipped quietly toward the south- 
em side, where the long veranda spanned 
the length of the residence. Keeping in 
what must have been a dense shadow at 
night, he edged around the corner, and, 
without relaxing his vigilance, made his 
way past the kitchen and the butler's pan- 
try toward the flight of steps leading to the 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 167 

veranda at the place where the house 
jutted in, the space between dining room 
and living room. 

Arriving at the steps, he dropped to all 
fours and crawled up, one by one. Car- 
roll noticed that the screen at the corner 
of the veranda would have effectually shut 
off a view of him from any one who might 
have been in the garden. Followed by his 
breathless audience, the old man crept 
across the veranda, pausing long enough to 
pull the revolver from his pocket. At the 
big French window which faced east — to- 
ward the rear of the house — ^he began talk- 
ing, low and sibilantly : 

"I came np just like this — ^so. I no- 
ticed that there was a light in the rocrai. 
I moved up to the window and looked in. 
I saw a girl — ^Mr. Hamilton's girl, I think 
it was. I was afraid she would see me, so 
I moved away. I waited in the shadow of 
the screen there; then I heard the sounds 
of a quarrel. I slipped back to the win- 



i68 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

dow, being careful to stand in the shadow 
so that Hamilton would not see me and 
run away. I wanted to kill him. 

"Every once in a while I could see the 
girl, and then I saw him fighting with an- 
other man '^ 

"Him?" 

"Mr. Hamilton. I couldn't see very 
plainly because that screen you see there 
cut off a part of my view. I didn't want 
to shoot Hamilton while the young man 
was fighting with him, because I didn't 
want to kill anybody but Hamilton. 
Then all of a sudden he rushed away from 
the man he was fighting with and tore open 
the drawer of that table yonder." Badg- 
er's voice rose shrilly; he was working him- 
self into a state of intense excitement — 
his little figure quivered with emotion. 
"He opened the drawer and pulled out a 
revolver. I thought that he saw me — ^so 
I raised the revolver like this" — ^he lifted 
the weapon, still clutching it in both 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 169 

hands, and half closed his eyes — "and took 
careful aim. And then I pulled the trig- 
ger, but just as I did all the lights went 
out. I shot!" He paused and stood 
trembling. 

"Then the lights went on again ! I saw 
Hamilton falling — and I knew — I knew I 
had killed him, and I was glad, glad! 
He'd stolen my money and ruined my life. 
I had warned him, warned him a dozen 
times, but he wouldn't believe me." 

Carroll touched him soothingly on the 
arm. 

"That's all right, Mr. Badger. Now 
tell us what you did after you pulled the 
trigger." 

The little man looked up dazedly. 

"I ran away. Just ran away, that's all. 
What else should I do? I went down to 
the police station and gave myself up." 

"Why did you do that?" 

"Because I didn't care any more what 
they did with me. I was willing to die 



170 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

now that I knew he was dead !" His eyes 
were flaming vindictively. "And I won't 
say I'm sorry, because I'm not. I was 
scared at first awful; the gun made a big 
noise, and it frightened me. And there 
were other people in the room, and I 
thought they'd catch me and hold me, and 
I wanted to give myself up so that every 
one would know the truth — would know 
that Hamilton's death had been the hand 
of justice — that's it, the hand of justice. 
This hand here — ^sce?" He extended a 
skinny paw that trembled as though with 
palsy. 

"Think carefully, Mr. Badger; did you 
hear another shot — ^just after the lights 
went on again?" 

Badger passed a weak hand across his 
forehead. Under Carroll's soothing ex- 
amination, he was recovering from the 
frenzy of passion which had gripped him 
a moment since. 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 171 

"Another shot? I don't know that I 
did." 

"Are you sure that you did not?^ 

"No, I'm not sure about anything. I 
wasn't thinking about anything much ex- 
cept being glad that I'd killed Hamilton. 
I told him I was going to do it, and after I 
saw him falling I ran away. And I ain't 
sorry for it, either; I ain't going to say that 
if you hang me. I'm glad I killed him." 

"S-h-sh! Don't get yourself worked 
up." 

"I — ^I — can't help it when I think of 
that man — and what he did to me. You 
see, I ain't been very well for a long time. 
I have headaches and such, and I don't 
think of many things at a time. And," 
with quaint dignity, "I guess that's all, 
ain't it, gentlemen?" 

Carroll nodded. 

"Yes, that's all, Mr. Badger. Rob- 
erts!" 






J9 

I 

99 



172 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

The young detective stepped forward 

Yes, sir?" 

Take Mn Badger to the automobile,, 
and be sure that no one sees him. We'll 
join you in a minute. 

''Very well, sir. 

He touched Badger gently on the shoul- 
der and they walked together; the big, 
broad-shouldered young detective in the 
prime of a perfect life and the wizened lit- 
tle old man long past the heyday of his. 
Hall swore sharply. 

"If he killed him or not," he broke out 
violently, "he ought to get off! The old 
man is daffy; crazy as a loon! If I ever 
in my life saw a victim of a homicidal 
mania, he is it; don't you think so. Den- 
son?" 

Denson nodded slowly. 

"I believe I do. And you, Carroll?" 

Instead of answering, Carroll stepped 
through the opened French window into 
the room and moved to his right until he 



-» 




SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 173 

stood behind the ornate Japanese screen in 
the shadow of which Rollins had found the 
iinconscious form of Red Hartigan. 

He inspected it carefully, occasionally 
turning to draw a bead from the spot from 
Mrhich Badger had fired to the place where 
the bullet hole showed. Finally he re- 
joined them. 

"I don't think Badger will need an in- 
sanity defence," he announced quietly. 

"Won't need Why? What do 

you mean?" 

"I mean," explained Carroll simply, 
*'that in so far as I can be positive of any- 
thing at this stage of the game, I am sure 
that Badger did not shoot Mr. Hamilton." 
He paused. Denson leaned forward 
tensely. 

"Then what did he shoot?" 
"Unless I am utterly mistaken," said 
the detective, ''Badger shot Red Harti- 
ganr 




CHAPTER X 

'LL tell you why I think Hartigan was 
shot by Badger,'' continued Carroll 
evenly. "You yourselves saw the 
man re-enact his part in last night's trag- 
edy. I, for one, am anything but gullible, 
and I say frankly that I believe the man 
was telling the truth." 
"And I," said Denson. 
Me, too," agreed Hall. 
So far so good. You also noticed that 
he handled his revolver with two hands. 
He is physically weak and puny. From 
the very way he handled the gun it was 
self-evident that he is not used to firearms. 
Why, then, suppose that his aim was so 
deadly accurate that he hit his target even 
in the dark? Revolver shooting is a diffi- 
cult art at best, and it would be stretching 

174 






SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 175 

one s credulity to believe that he hit the 
man he was firing at, especially as Haiti* 
gan — so he says — ^had meanwhile snapped 
off the lights. 

"But it is certain that he fired. Where, 
then, did his bullet go? Here." He 
took his stand on the spot where Badger 
had stood and clutched the revolver in two 
hands, waving it as Badger had done. 'If 
Harrelson and Hamilton had come 
through that door yonder they would have 
been visible beyond the left side of the 
screen. Badger already had his trigger 
back probably — ^his gun fired, and the bul- 
let struck Hartigan. You can see the bul- 
let hole beyond in the screen, just at the 
height of Hartigan's wrist, and I am pretty 
well convinced, after examining it again 
in the light of Badger's story, that the bul- 
let which went through that screen was 
headed into the room — not toward the 
wall. What do you think, Mr. Hall?' 

"I think you're dead right — and in so 



176 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

far as that little old man is concerned Tm 
glad." 

"And you, Denson"^" 

The lawyer pulled a wry face. 

"Since I have agreed to be honest, I must 
admit that I agree with you — ^much as I 
hate to." 

"Why?" 

"With Badger eliminated, the burden 
of guilt is thrown on one of my two 
clients — ^Miss Duval or Mr. Harrel- 



son." 



"You forgot Hartigan," suggested Car- 
roll. 

"By George !" Hall broke out. "I had 
forgotten Hartigan! We've proved his 
story true up to the present; but, still, he 
might have shot Hamilton and thought 
that Hamilton shot him." 

"He mighty yes," agreed Carroll. "But 
one fact stands out with puzzling signifi- 
cance — it is agreed that no shot was fired 
before the lights went out, and it is a vir- 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 177 

tual certainty that Hartigan was shot in 
the dark. Arc wc to believe, then, that he 
shot after switching the lights back on and 
after he had been wounded ?" 

* 

"He fired a shot at some time !" snapped 
Denson bluntly, "We know that !" 

"Yes," said Carroll, "so we do. I had 
forgotten that." 

Hall flashed him a keen glance. 

"What are you driving at, anyway, Car- 
roll? Hartigan lied to us when he told 
his first story; he admitted it when he came 
in to see us at headquarters with his 
carefully thought-out revision. Rollins 
found Hartigan unconscious behind that 
screen; he found in his pocket a revolver 
from which one shot had been fired. His 
deductions were absolutely logical. Why 
should we believe every detail of the 
crook's story?" 

"We shouldn't," said Carroll simply. 
"We shouldn't believe any one's story — 
even that of Miss Duval." 



178 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"Meaning?*' interjected Denson eag- 
erly. 

"That, of our four choices, three are mis- 
taken — either deliberately or through cir- 
cumstances. Remember, this case reeks 
with the unusual ; we have one of the most 
prominent men in the city murdered in his 
own study — and immediately following 
the murder the confessions of his ward, a 
society belle; a young artist, and a half- 
crazy old man. Then the head of our 
regular detective force brings in a burglar 
so tightly hemmed around with a net of 
circumstantial evidence that he wouldn't 
have a breathing chance before a jury. 

"A doctor's investigation proves beyond 
peradventure of a doubt that the man was 
shot only once. And while every one 
present admits that three shots might have 
been fired — the likelihood is that there 
were only two; one fired in the dark, and 
the other immediately after the lights were 
snapped on." 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 179 

"You're wrong/' said Denson earnestly. 
"You yourself admitted that what seemed 
to be the echo of the first shot in the dark 
might have been a second shot." 

"No, I don't forget that. I'll even go so 
far as to admit that two shots were fired in 
the dark. But this much I will say, I have 
been trying to find out who fired the shot 
which came after the lights went on again. 
I am strongly convinced that that is the 
shot which killed Mr. Hamilton." 

"I'd like to believe you," said Denson, 
"but I can't." 

"Why?" 

"The stories all tally that Hamilton was 
sinking to the floor when the lights were 
snapped on." 

"True enough; but isn't it likely that a 
man who has always led a sedentary life, 
and then is suddenly gripped in a deadly 
fight with another man, should be some- 
what surprised when at the climax the 
lights are suddenly extinguished, two shots 



.4 



i8o SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 



one — ^fired, and then the room sud- 
denly bathed in light again"? Imagme 
yourself in that predicament; can't you 
visualize the scene — the surcharged tense- 
ness of it, the fierce, emotional strain— 
your dazed attitude when the lights went 
on. And then the shot, and you sink to 
the floor. Of course it would look as 
though you had been shot while the lights 



were out.'* 



"Then why not Hartigan — in despera- 
tion?'* pursued Denson doggedly. 

"You're a good lawyer, Mr. Denson. 
But you seem to forget that Hartigan was 
shot in the right wrist. You see, you are 
giving yourself away — ^you are trying to 
prove that Hartigan did it when you your- 
self are convinced that he did not." 

Denson flushed. 

"Touche ! As a matter of fact, I am con- 
vinced that either Miss Duval or Mr. Har- 
relson did it. But I agree with you that 
Badger did not — ^his bullet went some- 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 181 

where ; and if, as you say, the bullet which 
hit Hartigan was travelling into the room 
and not out of it, then Badger's bullet 
must have done it. Therefore, it rests be- 
tween by clients and the burglar, and Fd 
rather believe in the guilt of the latter/' 

"So would I," said Carroll simply. 
"But I am letting circumstances right 
themselves in my mind. You see, gentle- 
men, the popular idea of the detective is a 
man who, by some God-given inspiration 
when the facts of the case are spread before 
him, inmiediately suspects the man who 
eventually proves to be guilty. 

"How he does it — ^by what mental leg- 
erdemain — I have never been able to dis- 
cover. But, as I say — ^he usually knows 
instinctively; and he is never wrong. He 
then proceeds to chase the wrong persons 
through some three hundred and fifty 
pages of a novel, finally swinging around 
and surprising the reader of the tale by the 
apprehension of the right man. 



i82 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"I am not that sort of a character. My 
method is simple ; I am merely marshalling 
before me all the facts of the case, down to 
the minutest detail. I am trying to weigh 
each in the balance and give each the atten- 
tion that it appears to deserve. When I 
feel confident that I have all the facts be- 
fore me, I will then try to decide who 
really did the killing, and how. But 
please, please do me the favour of ridding 
yourselves of the idea that I am a fiction 
detective holding back in my mind the 
name of the person who really did it. I 
assure you that I am as much up in the air 
as you are.'' 

"That all sounds good, Carroll,'* said 
Hall, "but you admitted not so long ago 
that you had started out with pretty well- 
formed suspicions." 

"I did," said Carroll quietly, "and they 
were all knocked into a cocked hat by later 
developments. And I prefer not to tell 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 183 

my suspicions to you. There are a good 
many things in this case I cannot make 
head or tail of — which is the reason I do 
not want to tell you what I originally 
thought. I want you to review the case 
for yourselves — open-mindedly, and then 
let me know honestly what your conclu- 
sions are. You stand as much chance, if 
not more, of hitting the correct solution. 
I can promise you this — we shall know 
something before very long, and in the 
meanwhile I want to get Mr. Benson's con- 
sent to a little plan of mine.'* 

'^Which is?'* asked the lawyer. 

"To return to headquarters, confront 
Vincent Harrelson with Miss Duval — 
without telling either anything about the 
other — and then deliberately listen. 
How about it?'* 

Denson shook his head slowly. 

"I'm afraid that's not playing the game 
squarely." 



i84 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"Do you want the truth of the matter, 
Denson ? That is a quick way of learning 
where they stand/' 

Denson paced slowly up and down the 
veranda. What Carroll said was true; 
neither Eunice nor Vincent Harrelson 
knew that the other had confessed. Sud- 
denly confronted with one another, they 
might be startled into speaking the truth. 
Denson whirled and nodded. 

"Another dainn-fool proceeding on my 
part, Carroll, but you can have your way." 

"Great! I assure you, Mr. Denson, 
you are doing a sensible thing. Now — 
back to headquarters." 

In a short time they were back at the 
police station and Badger was left in his 
private cell in the company of Roberts, 
Carroirs man. 

Carroll arranged things with expedition. 
Johnson and Smith, two of .Carroll's men, 
were instructed about bringing Eunice and 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 185 

Vincent Harrelson into the rest room 
within thirty seconds of one another; there 
to leave them without a word. And then, 
when the stage was set, Carroll inquired 
for Rollins* 

^'What's that?" questioned Hall won- 
deringly. ''What do you want with Rol- 
lins?" 

"He is the head of the police depart- 
ment's detective force; I think he should 
be here." 

Hall shook his head. 

"Aren't you equivocating, Carroll? 
Haven't you some ulterior motive?" 

Carroll grinned enigmatically. 

"Perhaps." 

"What is it?" 

"Draw your own conclusions. At least, 
it will do no harm for Rollins to hear what 
transpires." 

Rollins was called and the situation 
sketched to him. He appeared surprised 



i86 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

at first that Carroll had irot entirely 
dropped the case, but the outside detective 
placated him. 

*'You see, Rollins, I don't like to drop 
the case until it is absolutely cleared up— 
and, while circumstantial evidence does 
undoubtedly point to Red Hartigan, we 
have two other self-confessed suspects who 
must be cleared before we can close up the 
record. Isn't that so?" 

"Ye-e-s; but as soon as they know 
about Hartigan '* 

"Exactly,'' beamed Carroll naively, and 
then nodded to his two men. Rollins 
scowled momentarily. 

"That's another thing I don't like," he 
asserted none too pleasantly. "Why've 
you got your men on the job here instead of 
thereg'lars?" 

"A little idiosyncrasy of mine, Rollins. 
However, I'll trot 'em away soon enough. 
Now let's keep silent, all of us. From 
this room here we can see something and 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 187 

hear everything. Not a soul is to say a 
word." 

A silence fell on them as they stood, 
grouped, in the dressing room between the 
rest room and the showers. Their expres- 
sions afforded a study for a facial artist. 
Denson plainly betrayed his keen personal 
interest and his fear that he had done the 
wrong thing in consenting to the f orthcom- 
ing meeting; Hall was figuratively on his 
toes with interest, part personal and part 
impersonal ; Rollins was sullen and rather 
ill at ease ; Carroll placid and smiling be- 
nignly. 

The door opened and Vincent Harrel- 
son entered the rest room. Smith left him 
with a word, and Harrelson stared curi- 
ously about, plainly at a loss for an ex- 
planation. And then, a few seconds later, 
in came Eunice Duval. The officer in 
charge of her left the pair alone ; the door 
closed, and they faced each other. 

The surprise visible on the face of each 



i88 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

could not have been simulated; even the 
chronically doubting Rollins knew that it 
was real. For perhaps five seconds the 
young couple stared at one another, and 
then they did the perfectly natural and 
normal thing for two young people who arc 
very much in love. They swept together, 
and Vincent took the girl in his arms and 
kissed hungrily. Then he let her lean 
back in his arms and stared into her eyes. 

"It's good to see you, sweetheart," he 
said softly. "But how in the world did 
you know I was here? The papers 
haven't a word about me — at least, that's 
what Smith said." 

A puzzled look flashed into her eyes. 

"They didn't tell me you were here, 
Vincent. They simply said that there was 
some one to see me, and then brought me 



in." 



''Brought you in ?" 
"Why, yes — certainlyJ 
He shook his head. 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 189 

"I don't understand, dear." 

The colour mounted to her face. 

"Surely you don't think I would have 
kept silent. I came down here immedi- 
ately after I shot Mr. Hamilton '' 

He went white ; the big, muscular hands 
which gripped her shoulders tightened un- 
til she winced with the pain of it. 

"What are you saying?" he cried 
hoarsely. "After you shot Hamilton ?" 

"Why, certainly, dear; what else was 
there for me to do?" 

Suddenly he threw back his head and 
laughed with grim humour. Her face 
grew very grave, and she touched him 
gently on the arm. 

"Vincent — what's the matter? Please 
tell me — 



39 
me 



'Don't you understand, darling? 
Can't you see why they brought us to- 
gether in here? They've no doubt got a 
dictagraph rigged up somewhere and are 
listening to every word we're saying." 



190 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

'"What has that to do with it?' she said 
doggedly. "Fve told them I did it '' 

"And so have I/' he flashed. "Do you 
suppose for one minute that I would have 
allowed that sacrifice on your partT' 
The words were pouring torrentially from 
his lips. "Do you suppose that I will al- 
low your name to be dragged through the 
mire because, bless you, you think that you 
will be absolved by a jury while I would be 
convicted? Go tell them, dear, that you 
didn't. Fll get off, never fear. I shot 
him in self-defence.'' 

"Vincent!" Her arms went up about 
his neck and her eyes bored straight into 
his. "You mustn't do this thing; it is 
wonderful of you, just what I would have 
expected, but you cannot; you must not." 

He laughed shortly. 

"My dear little girl, it wouldn't take 
them very long to find out that you did not 
shoot Mr. Hamilton. And then they'd 
find out about my quarrel with him and 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 191 

get me. My self-defence plea would 
amount to nothing, then, would it? I 
thought rd better face the music; had bet- 
ter take my medicine right. He did at- 
tack me, and it was he who pulled the re- 
volver from the drawer. If there is such 
a thing as justice in the courts — and I be- 
lieve that there is — I will be let off." 

Very suddenly the girl seated herself. 
Her eyes were misty. 

"Kiss me, Vincent." 

He did as bidden, and then she con- 
tinued : 

"Now sit down, please; I want to argue 
with you." 

"There's no room for argument, dear." 

"Please, Vincent." 

He drew a chair close to hers, possessed 
himself of her hand, and as she talked he 
stroked it gently. Her eyes flamed with 
a wonderful light, a light which brought 
liunps to the throat of the eavesdropping 
quartet in the next room. 



192 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"Listen, dear/* she said softly, **you 
must listen to sense. I came down and 
confessed because I was afraid they would 
find out about your quarrel and fight with 
Mr. Hamilton and would arrest you. I 
shot him, as you well know, just as the 
lights went out. They won't do anything 
to me — it was done in the heat of passion 
and when it seemed that he would kill 
you." 

"Let me interrupt,'* he said firmly. 
"That defence would never go. In the 
first place, you had no revolver.*' 

"I picked it up off the floor when you 
tore it from his hand." 

"Don't talk nonsense, Eunice. You're 
saying all that because you, too, think that 
we are being listened to. Imagine that 
little runt of a man tearing a revolver from 
my hands." 

"He didn't," she persisted. "You tore 
it from his hands. I picked it up and fired 
just after the lights went out. When they 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 193 

went up again he was falling. Oh, it was 
terrible !" 

'It was that — ^and more," he agreed 
soberly. "But there's no use for any more 
of this stage play. I'm willing to take my 
chances; they cannot convict me of mur- 
der; manslaughter, perhaps, but not mur- 
der. The chances are that they will let me 
off scot-free." 

"As though rd be willing to chance that, 
dear." 

"Why not«" he pleaded wildly. "I 
shot him !" 

"Please, dear — all of that is for the ben- 
efit of any one who may be listening, and 
you know it. Don't put your neck into a 
noose! You didn't even have the revol- 



ver." 



The man shrugged hopelessly. 
"Are you going to stick to that ridicu- 
lous story, sweetheart?" 
'It is the truth." 
"Eunice!" His voice grew sharp. 



194 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS, 

"You put me in the light of a man con- 
fessing to save his sweetheart. I wouldn't 
do it if you had really shot him; they'd let 
you off, all right enoujgh. But I picked up 
that revolver and fired in the dark — I had 
taken aim first. Fm a good shot ; you are 
not." 

"I was standing very close to him." 

"And I was closer. Can't you see that 
they'll never hang me for what I did?" 

"I'll not allow you to take chances." 

"And you won't retract your ridiculous 
confession?" 

"I have told the truth." 

"You will stick to that story?" 

"Positively." 

"Then," he said hopelessly, "God help 
us both!" 

"Why?" she cried anxiously. "You 
don't mean to say that you will refuse 
to retract in the face of what I have iust 
said?" 

"I mean just that, dear. I shot him, 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 195 

id I was willing to take the consequences. 
I view of your implication, I am afraid I 
all have to amend my story so that it 
ill not look so much life self-defence — 
' that I will lose the jury's sympathy and 
ley'U be more liable to convict me." 
"They'll never convict you. They will 
alize that I am telling the truth." 
"Then," he said simply, "I shall never 
)ld my head up again. You mean well, 
unice; but you are doing a headstrong, 
olish thing. I am sorry, dear ; although 
makes me love you the more." 
A sudden, crafty light crept into her 
es. 

"Did you hear a second shot? — ^it 
imded just as though it were fired when 
e lights went on again." 
He frowned. 

"You will claim that you fired that?* 
"Did you hear it?" 
"Yes — of course I did." 
"Where did it come from?" 



196 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"I don't know, dear. I probably imag- 
ined it." 

"If it had been real and not a figment 
of the imagination — ^where would you 
guess it came from?" 

"Outside, I should say/* 

"Good! And did you know that they 
found a burglar lying unconscious and 
wounded, behind that screen ?'* 

"What? You mean '' 

"That we'll both probably get off, if we 
want to. I mean that they are sure that 
his bullet killed Mr. Hamilton.'' 

The young artist shook his head slowly. 

"No, dear; I certainly did not hit the 
screen when I fired and the burglar was 
wounded. The chances are his revolver 
went off and he hit himself. It was my 
shot '' 

"Don't lie! It was I who fired — ^you 
know it!" 

In the adjoining room, Carroll nodded 
to the others and beckoned them to follow. 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 197 

Once in the courtyard, the group faced 
each other, their expressions denoting 
vaiying degrees of bewilderment. Car- 
roll spoke — ^addressing Rollins. 

'"What do you make of it?" he ques- 
tioned. 

Rollins deliberated, and then 

'1 think they're both lyin','* he said 
bluntly, '^because each really thinks the 
other did it r 



CHAPTER XI 

FIVE minutes later, Vincent Har- 
relson answered a rap on the door 
and David Carroll came in, fol- \ 
lowed by the lawyer, the police commis- 
sioner, and Barrett Rollins. Eunice 
stepped forward and spoke with admirable 
self-possession. 

"Did you enjoy our conversation?'* she 
questioned brightly. 

Carroll smiled. 

"I can't say that I did," he answered. 
"You only succeeded in puzzling me more 
than ever." 

"It's what they tried to do," growled 
Rollins. 

"Quite evidently," returned Carroll. 
"And now. Miss Duval, may I ask you one 
question?" 

108 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 199 



"A thousand if you like. But I tell you 
right now '' 

"There's no use quibbling!'' snapped 
Harrelson aggressively. "I killed Ham- 
ilton, and Miss Duval, thinking that she 
will be let off because she is a woman, has 
confessed to save me. You tell her this, 
Carroll, honestly: Do you or do you not 
think that I would be acquitted on the 
facts as you know them?" 

Carroll eyed him keenly. 

"According to the facts as you have pre- 
sented them, Mr. Harrelson, I should say 
that you would be acquitted without any 
great trouble. What do you think, Mr. 
Denson?" 

The lawyer nodded gravely. 

"I think they'd let you off, son, pro- 
vided your story stood the test of cross- 



examination." 



Harrelson turned triumphantly to the 
girl. 

"You see, dear; even Mr. Denson ad- 



200 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

mits that Fd be let off. Now will you 
retract your silly, soft-hearted confes- 
sion?" 

The girl looked up and then away again. 

"You're a dear boy," she said in a 
choked little voice. "But, you see, gen- 
tlemen, I cannot retract the truth. I shot 
Mr. Hamilton. You wanted to ask me a 
question, Mr. Carroll?" 

"Yes — it is a question directed at both 
of you. During your little talk just now 
you seemed to agree that there was one 
revolver, and one only, among the three of 
you. Is that correct?" 

They were silent for a minute, suspect- 
ing a trap. Denson spoke : 

"I'd advise that you tell the truth.'* 

"Yes," said Harrelson, "there was just 
one revolver — ^Mr. Hamilton's. I picked 
it up off the floor and fired at him." 

Eunice shook her head. 

"It is just a question of which one is 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 201 

telling the truth, Mr. Carroll. I give you 
my word that I fired the revolver/* 

"That's all I wanted to know/* replied 
the detective. "And now, if you will, I 
am going to ask you to go with us to the 
house. I will take Mr. Rollins here and 
Red Hartigan with us. I want the scene 
re-enacted exactly as it happened last 
night. Mr. Denson agrees. Do you?'* 

"I do,*' answered the girl promptly. 

"And I." The reply of the young man 
was almost as ready. 

A few minutes later they were speeding 
toward Hamilton's handsome home in two 
large touring cars. On their arrival they 
found Mrs. Faber on the long veranda to 
greet them. 

Carroll bowed to her as he led the party 
up the steps by the L of the porch. 

"Good morning, Mrs. Faber! Have 
you heard anjrthing from your maid or the 
butler yet?" 



ao2 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

The little old lady shook her head. 

"No, sir. I don't understand any of it, 
either — unless they got scared when the 
shooting started and ran away. I might 
understand the maid doing that, sir; but 
not the butler. He was a big, strapping 
man, sir.'' 

"He was that," indorsed Denson. "I 
saw him last night, and he didn't impress 
me as being the type of man to be fright- 
ened by a little shooting." 

"What's all this talky-talk about the 
butler?" broke in Rollins roughly. 
"Whada we care where he's gone? We 
got the guy that done the work, an' we 
should worry if the butler never comes 
back." 

"No-o, on the face of it, we shouldn't," 
said Carroll slowly. "But in a case as 
complex as this one I prefer to talk to 
every one who was near the scene at the 
time." 

"Piffle!" snapped Rollins. "S'more o' 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 203 

your dam' — ^beggin' your pfardon, ladies — 
highfalutin' stuff. Got to go ahead just 
so, like it's wrote down in the book. Hon- 
est, you private sleuths gimme a pain; 
if you was to see a guy shoot another one 
you'd go up an' examine th' footprints an' 
the calibre of the revolver instead of 
chasin' the feller that you seen do it." 

Instead of growing angry, Carroll threw 
back his head and laughed ringingly. 

"Pretty good, Rollins. Maybe you're 
right, after all. I'm somewhat of an old 
fogy in those things ; like the farmer with 
the jointed fishing rod and gold-mounted 
handle — ^he whips the stream all day and 
catches a trout two inches long while the 
kid on the bank with a switch from a tree, 
four yards of string, and a bent pin catches 
a dozen." 

Rollins grinned. 

"That's about the size of it, Mr. Carroll. 
I wasn't slappin' at you personal, y'under- 
stand; it's just that you fellers ain't used 



204 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

to the game, an' y* travel all around th' 
block to git next door/' 

"Well, as Rollins has said," went on 
Carroll gravely, albeit he was not uncon- 
scious and not unamused at the glances of 
wonder on the faces of Hall and Denson at 
his reception of Rollins' brusqueness, "that 
eliminates a need to interview the butler. 
Now for the living room." 

They entered the room in which the 
shooting had occurred, and as they did so 
the weird associations of the place affected 
the nerves of all. They became quiet — 
all of them save Rollins. As for the head 
of the regular office, he strutted up and 
down the room with his chest out like a 
pouter pigeon, proclaiming his theories to 
all who would listen. 

They were theories which absolved 
Eunice and Harrelson from all blame and 
loomed ominous for a certain Mr. Red 
Hartigan, who scowled silently at the big 
man. 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 205 

"Helluva lot he knows !*' growled Har- 
tigan once. Carroll silenced him with a 
look. 

Finally the young detective placed the 
characters in the little tragedy, himself 
assuming the role of the dead man ; Harti- 
gan stood behind the screen; Eunice took 
her place behind the portieres ; Harrelson 
and Carroll started into the library, ad- 
joining the living room on the western 
side. 

"I want to be sure that everything is 
just as it was last night," he said. "Are 
you sure it is, Miss Duval?'* 

The girl glanced around. 

"Yes, eicept that that large door there 
opening to the veranda was open. The 
portieres behind this French window here 
were closed, those over the window on the 
other side of the door were partly closed, 
and those over the window behind the 
screen were thrown back — ^I remember 
throwing them back myself during the 



ao6 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

afternoon so that the breeze could come 
through/' 

"And the screen over the corner of the 
veranda?" 

'*Was down on the southern side, be- 
cause the exposure is slightly westerly, too, 
and we did that to keep the afternoon sun 
away. The screen on the eastern expo- 
sure had been rolled up/' 

"Good!'' said Carroll. "Now begin at 
the beginning. You, Hartigan — ^vou had 
your gun out." 
j Hartigan frowned deeply. 

"Say, listen here, cull! If you've 
brung me up here to catch me in a trap, 
y'r gonna get fooled, see ! I didn't have 
no gat — never carried one. I had a bun- 
dle of swag, an' I was standin' back here — 
slipped in through th' back stairs, hall, 
dinin' room, an' was waitin' to vamose 
through this here winder when I seen this 
girl step out from behind them curtains 
yonder." 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 207 

''No one was in the room when you came 
in from the dining room?' 

"Didn't see no one. Guess she was 
there all th' time." 

**Why didn't you make your get-away 
right off?" 

"Because," explained the burglar, "it 
was th' other half of th' winder that was 
open, an' that was beyond th' screen. So 
there wasn't nothin' to do but for me to 
wait until th' coast was clear. I lay low — 
until th' fight started." 

"Hmm! Did you see this man. Miss 
Duval?" 

She shook her head. 

"No. No one came in the room right 
then but Donaldson." 

A battery of eyes flashed to hers. Car- 
roll was patently surprised. 

"Donaldson?" 

"The butler," she explained. 

"You didn't mention him. Why?" 

"I forgot him. He came in the room^ 



ao8 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

looked out toward the garden, and walked 
into the dining room again/* 

"Did you see him, Hartigan?" 

"Yeh, I seen him/' 

'"Why didn't you mention it?* 

"I got my own good reasons for that/' 

Rollins burst in violently, 

"It's probable that the butler was in on 
the robbery!" he rasped. "That's why 
this here guy won't say nothin' — low as 
they get, they don't get so low as to squeal 
on a pal. But that'd explain your butler 
beatin' it when the fireworks started." 

'So-o ! Was Donaldson in with you?" 
That's f'r me to know an' you to find 
out," said Hartigan belligerently. "I've 
said all I'm gonna say about him." 

"Which is tantamount to an admission 
that the butler was concerned in the bur- 
glary," interjected Denson. Hartigan 
looked at him sharply. 

"It ain't tantymount to nothin', you 
wise guy !" 






SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 209 

**Y*r shootin' off y'r mouth too much !** 
growled Rollins. "One more word an* 
I'll " 

it'xrj 9^ 99 



'V can't scare me 



"Here, here!" Carroll stepped be- 
tween the pair. "None of that, please. 
You, Hartigan, get behind the screen. 
For safety's sake, Roberts, take your place 
on the veranda to see that this man 
doesn't try any funny work. And now, 
folks, if you will " 

He walked into the library with Har- 
relson, and that young man took up the 
story. 

"We were standing here by the centre 
table, quarrelling," he said simply. "It 
got more and more violent, and finally he 
struck me. I knocked him down. I was 
kind of sorry about it, because he was so 
much smaller than I. But he was game, 
all right. He jumped up and made a dash 
for the table. Got a big paper weight off 
there and slammed it at me. Fortunately 



210 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

I ducked and managed to grapple with 
him." 

"Just one minute, Mr. Harrelson. 
How did you happen to be in here with 
him?" 

"Mr. Hamilton did not like me, and we 
started quarrelling about my attentions to 
his ward, to whom I have the honour to be 
engaged. We met in the living room, and 
he asked her to leave us alone. She re- 
fused, and he suggested that we come in 
here where we could be alone. I, of 
course, agreed." 

"And why did you go behind the por- 
tieres. Miss Duval?" 

"I thought they might come back in the 
room and think I had gone. I came back 
when I heard the violent quarrel and the 
noise evidently caused by the throwing of 
the paper weight." 

"I see. And just about then is when 
you came in from the dining room, wasn't 
it, Hartigan?" 






SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 211 

"Guess so, Th' room looked empty, an' 
this here lady come out from behind them 
there curtains right afterward/' 

'Go ahead, Harrelson." 

'As I say, I grappled with him. All I 
wanted to do was to hold him quiet, but 
le was stronger than I thought and slip- 
)ery as an eel. We banged against the 
ioor and it flew open. We staggered into 
he room/' 

'"Where was Miss Eunice at that time?'* 

The girl took her place halfway be- 
ween the door and the table, 

"I was standing right here, frightened 
death,'' 

"Is that the way you saw them, Harti- 
;an?' 

"That's th' way it looked to me. 
Course I couldn't see awful plain from 
)ehind that there screen," 

"And then?" prompted Carroll, 

"Mr. Hamilton tore loose from me," 
^rcnt on the young artist. "Before I knew 



212 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

what he was doing he had the drawer of 
that table open and a revolver in his hand. 
Eunice screamed, and I jumped for him 
and grabbed his arai. Then '' 

"I turned out the lights,'' said Harti- 
gan. 

^'YouT It was a chorus from Eunice, 
Harrelson and Rollins. 

"Yes, I knew that," said Carroll quietly. 
"Go ahead, Mr. Harrelson." 

"As the lights went out tlie revolver 
dropped to the floor. I reached down, 
grabbed it, and shot him." 

Eunice's face flamed. 

"That is not the truth, Mr. Carroll. 
tYou can look at him and see that it is not 
the truth. The revolver spun against my 
feet. Before I realized what I was doing 
I picked it up and fired at Mr. Hamilton. 
And he did not tell the truth about one 
other feature in his eagerness to shield me. 
I had the revolver in my hands before the 
lights went out; isn't that so, Hartigan?" 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 213 

The burglar shook his head. 

"I dunno, miss. Y'see, about then I 
vas fixin' to reach for th' light switch; but 
] do know this — that the revolver dropped 
'before I turned off the lights !" 

"A-a-ah!" A sigh escaped the rigid 
Denson. He turned sharply to Harrel- 
>on. "Is that the truth, Vincent?'' 

The young man coloured violently. 

"I shot in the dark," he persisted mul- 
shly. 

"I don't believe you,'* announced Den- 
ton finally, "although I wish to God I 
:ould. You have a good defence.*' 

Eunice flashed him a glance of appre- 
ciation. 

"Thanks, Mr. Denson." 

Carroll strolled idly about the room, ex- 
imining floors and ceiling. From the op- 
30site comer, he spoke over his shoulder: 

"Would you mind standing exactly on 
the spot from which you shot. Miss Du- 



214 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"Certainly/' She placed herself imme- 
diately between the table and the door, on 
a line with the comer of the room. Car- 
roll walked back across the room and ex- 
tended both hands — one to Eunice and one 
to Harrelson. 

"I think that about absolves the pair of 
you two foolish children,'' he said heart- 
ily. 

A gasp of surprise went up and a chorus 
of "What do you mean?" 

"I mean/' said Carroll slowly, "that the 
bullet that was fired from that spot never 
hit Mr. Hamilton at all. It struck in the 
very corner of the walls and ceiling yon- 
der! You can sec the hole for your- 
selves!" 



CHAPTER XII 

IT was Denson, his mind trained to 
cope with sudden twists, to whom the 
legal aspect made an unmediate ap- 
peal. He leaned forward and made a fu- 
tile attempt to conceal the excitement in 
[lis voice : 

"Do you mean, Carroll, that they arc 
free?" 

Carroll shrugged- 

"Practically- Can't let them off en- 
tirely yet, but I think I can promise them 
a release on their own recognizance- And 
now" — ^he turned to them — "I would like 
to know, just to satisfy myself, who really 
did fire that shot?" 

"No trap, Carroll," warned Denson. 

"Answer or not," retorted the detective. 
'As for me, I play my cards face up. Two 
>ut of three were agreed that the shot was 

215 



2i6 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

fired in the dark. It has been the consen- 
sus of opinion and my personal belief that 
the shot which killed Mr. Hamilton was 
not fired from close quarters — the appear- 
ance of the wound, the lack of burning, 
and the absence of powder stains attest 
that. But it is certain that Mr. Hamil- 
ton's revolver was fired. Where, then, did 
the bullet go? It doesn't take any trans- 
cendent investigator to find the hole 
made by a bullet fired from that spot at 
Mr. Hamilton. And there it is." He 
pointed to a small, round hole plugged in 
the juncture point of the two walls and 
the ceiling in the corner near the hall. 
"So there, Denson, is my case against 
these two young people. They can an- 
swer or not, as they wish. I've played fair 
and aboveboard all the way through, and 
was merely trying to satisfy my very hu- 
man curiosity as to which one did it.'* 

The eyes of the men met and held. 
Denson threw up his hands. 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 217 

**You should have been a lawyer, Car- 
roll. Tfe have a way wid yez!' Tell 
him, Eunice/* 

"I fired the shot," she said simply. She 
was on the verge of tears from the emo- 
tional relief. But Harrelson put out his 
hand. 

"She did not!" he insisted. "It was I 
who fired it." 

"Vincent!" 

"Eunice!" 

"As your lawyer, Vincent, I give you 
permission to tell." 

"You are sure that that is where the bul- 
let went?" 

"Positive." 

"Well" — the young man spread his 
hands wide with a significant gesture — 
"Fm afraid Fm convicting myself a liar; 
but Eunice fired. My story is absolutely 
true up to the point of firing the shot." 

Hall looked at the young man in sur- 
prise. 



2i8 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"I congratulate you, sir/' he said qui- 
etly, "I had thought that chivalry was 
dead." 

"Not that, sir," returned the young man 
somewhat bashfully. *'You see, I took 
pains to concoct a story which pretty well 
protected me." 

"Poppycock anxi balderdash! Your 
story was true, and you were willing to 
shoulder the blame I Damme, sir, Fm 
glad to shake your hand, if it has taken the 
death of my best friend to prove to me 
that there are a few men alive in whom the 
best of the mediaeval still exists." 

Carroll resumed his slow pacing of the 
room. As he passed each of his three men, 
he whispered a few words to them signifi- 
cantly, then walked on nonchalantly, as 
though taking a constitutional. His keen 
eyes, lighted with the joy of the chase, 
missed no detail of the sparsely, if hand- 
somely, furnished room. Finally he 
faced the others." 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 219 

"And now/' he said, "we have proved 
the innocence of our two chief actors. I 
don't know whether you gentlemen re- 
ilize, in your personal relief over the 
liberation of these young folks, that we are 
18 far from the capture of the murderer as 
ive were thirty seconds after the fatal shot 
ivas fired." 

They stared at him in dazed silence. 
What he said was true; that phase of the 
:ase had not appealed to them. Hall 
3pened his mouth to mention Badger, then 
closed it abruptly — like a fish gasping in 
the fresh air. He remembered two things 
regarding Badger — first of all, that they 
bad pretty well proven his innocence, and 
secondly, that Rollins knew nothing of 
Badger, or his connection with the case. 

He remembered, also, the fact that there 
wzs a third shot; two had already been 
accounted for — Eunice's, which had for* 
tunately gone wild and dug itself a bur- 
raw in the ceiling; and Badger's, which 



220 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

had inflicted the painful wound in Harti- 
gan's right wrist. 

But Hartigan's revolver had also been 
fired- According to the burglar's story, he 
had not fired. Furthermore, it had been 
pretty well agreed that the fatal shot had 
been fired immediately after the lights 
were turned on. Badger stubbornly 
maintained that he had fired in the dark. 
If that were true and it was a fact that his 
bullet was the one which had wounded 
Hartigan, then it followed that Hartigan 
could not well have fired with his right 
wrist mangled. 

It seemed that Carroll had been work- 
ing in a circle, eliminating one barrier 
after another only to find each new one 
harder to surmount. But if Carroll and 
his friends were bewildered, Barrett Rol- 
lins, head of the regular detective force, 
was not at all at a loss as to who was the 
culprit. 

"There was three of them in the room," 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 221 

said Rollins earnestly. ''We know Miss 
Duval fired an' we've found her bullet — 
in a place where Hartigan's couldn't of 
gone. I been notrcin', too, that that there 
hole in the screen was made by a bullet 
travellin' into the room from behind th' 
screen, and if youse fellers had eyes in your 
heads you'd of noticed that it is just about 
th' height that Red could of fired from to 
kill Mr. Hamilton." 

"He could have been stooping, had he 
fired at that height." 

"Stoopin', sure he'd of been stoopin'. 
He was hidin', wasn't he? An' when a 
man hides does he stand upright? 
G'wan ! Y' don't think any. Even in a 
dark alley a man'U stoop if he's tryin' t' 
make a get-away. Hartigan is th' man." 

"You're quite sure of that?" questioned 
Carroll quietly. 

"Sure ? M'Gawd, I know it !" 

"How do you know?" ^ 

Rollins flushed. 



:222 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"I know, that's all. There ain't no one 
else could of done it/* 

"No, that's true ; that's true. And yet," 
he continued in a placidly argumentative 
tone, as though discussing a purely the- 
oretical case, "you forget that some one 
shot Hartigan." 

"Poof! Maybe he wasn't shot just 
then." 

"But he was, you see/' 

"I don't see any such of a dam' thing! 
— 'sensing th' French. You fly cops think 
you've got it all down pat when y' don't 
know a thing. T' tell me that Red Harti- 
gan couldn't of been shot when " 

"He was shot behind that screen!" 
Carroll bit his words off sharply. A hint 
of antagonism, the first he had shown to- 
ward Rollins, had crept into his tones. 

"You're crazy!" 

Carroll turned away, smiling again. 

"Well, there's no use arguing with 
you." 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 223 

*'Of course there ain't/' And then, as 
Carroll fell into a low-voiced conversation 
with Eunice and Harrelson, Rollins strode 
across the room after him. One big hand 
shot out and Carroll was whirled around. 
The face of the young detective went 
white, and he shook himself loose, 

'^Rollins," he said acidly, "you will keep 
your hands to yourself/' 

"I'll do what I please ^" started the 

man from headquarters, and then calmed 
down suddenly with the remembrance that 
he was in the presence of the police com* 
missioner. "S'pose you tell me why you 
know that this here yegg was potted while 
he was there an' not before." 

"I don't believe you are interested in my 
theories," returned Carroll quietly. 

Rollins' voice took on a pleading nu- 



ance." 



"Now, Mr. Carroll, I wasn't meanin' 

anything " 

"I'm nothing but a fly cop," flung out 



224 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

Carroll, clipping his words. "But I have 
sense enough to know that his wound was 
bleeding profusely, and that there were 
no blood traces anywhere except behind 
that screen!'' 

An involuntary "Oh !'* was ripped from 
Rollins' lips. Of a sudden his temper 
grew sullen again. 

"Well, whadaya drivin' at*? D'yuh 
have to have everybody mixed up in the 
case come out an' paraded before y"? 
Then take y'r pick?" 

This time real anger flamed into Car- 
roll's eyes. His face grew livid and his 
fists clenched. He came very close to Rol- 
lins, and his eyes burned into the little, 
close-set orbs of the chief of the regular 
force. 

"Let's have this out right now, Rollins, 
once and for all. From the very begin- 
ning of this case I haven't liked your man- 
ner. So long as it was partially imper- 
sonal and dealt in generalities, I thought 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 225 

it beneath me to pay any particular atten- 
tion. Now you're forcing it on me, and 
I'm not going to ignore it longer. From 
this moment on you will remember that I 
am your superior officer, and you will act 
accordingly. And my first order is that 
you keep your filthy tongue between your 
teeth!'' 

"Damn you !" Rollins' muscular frame 
tensed, and for a brief moment it appeared 
that the two men were about to clash phys- 
ically. Then the larger man relaxed 
slowly,*his eyes holding the steady, steely 
ones of Carroll as though transfixed. The 
little blond chap nodded. 

"That's better. Any time you care to 
talk decently you can talk. But you've 
uttered your last personality; get that?" 

Rollins was beet-red and in the grip of a 
murderous anger. But he had been too 
good a disciplinarian on the force to give 
way again in the light of what he had read 
in Carroll's unfaltering gaze. 



226 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

''Very well, sir," he said with simu- 
lated respect. "Until this case is fin- 
ished rU remember that you're over my 
head." 

"That's all I ask." Carroll turned to- 
ward the others, in a second ridding him- 
self of the anger he had just exhibited. 
"We are still far from a solution of this 
case," he said. "Instead of having two 
people who claim to have committed the 
crime, we have one suspect against whom 
the evidence is wholly circumstantial, and 
not at all strong. You, Hartigan, said 
something about pals; do you mean that 
you were not alone in this robbery?" 

Hartigan thought for a moment and 
then nodded. 

"Yes, sir, just that. Me and my pals — 
we never work alone, y'see; an' they was 
with me." 

"And of course you won't tell who they 
were?' 

"Of course not, sir." 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 227 

"Hmm! Will you tell me this ? Did 
one of them shoot you?" 

The burglar was a bit dazed by the ques-* 
tion. 

"Why, cert'n'y not, sir. Ain't I told 
you right from th' first that I was shot 
while I was standin' behind th' screen ?" 

"Do you realize, Hartigan, the position 
this puts you in ? So long as we suspected 
cither Miss Duval or Mr. Harrelson, here, 
there was a chance that we might believe 
your story. But now even you will ad- 
mit that neither of them did it, and you 
were the only other person in the room, and 
your gun had been fired ^^ 

"No,'' burst out the big man, "that's not 
true, sir, and ye know it ! That gun was 
planted on me! How, I dunno. All I 
know is I ain't never toted a gat. Rol- 
lins, there, could tell y' that if he would. 
Y'see," he explained painstakingly, "us 
crooks has got habits just like reg'lar guys. 
Some of us is gunmen an' some ain't 



228 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

An' Rollins knows all of us — that's his 
business. An' he knows that when a man 
has a rep for not packin' a rod he don't do 
it, that's all. Ain't that so, Rollins T 

"Not in your case," answered Rollins 
fiercely. "You've been caught with a gun 
before." 

Hartigan's face flamed. 

"Cop or no cop," he raved, "Fm here 
tellin' ye that y'r a dirty, rotten liar ! An' 
that goes as she lays if I swing for it!" 

Rollins leaped forward — ^but Hall 
stopped him with a whispered word of 
warning. He turned to Carroll. 

"What that yegg says is part true," he 
explained. "I know 'em all, I got their 
records at my finger tips ; some of 'em do 
carry guns an' some don't. But take it 
from me — an' I know — there never was a 
bunch of second-story men that set out to 
crack a crib like this here one without heel- 
in' themselves. My Gawd, Mr. Carroll, 
don't that sound reasonable?" 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 229* 

*'Yes, Rollins, it sounds reasonable !'* 

*lt's the truth," insisted Rollins. 

"It's a dam' " 

"Enough of that, Hartigan !" CarroU's 
voice was again the implacable steel which 
forbade denial. "What I was driving at 
is this: Whether that gun was there or 
whether it wasn't — whether you fired it or 
whether you didn't, the fact remains that 
any jury in the world will believe that, in 
view of the circumstances, you killed Mr. 
Hamilton. I'm not asking you to squeal 
on your pals in an ordinary case. If you 
were only in for a burglary indictment 
that'd be one thing — ^but this is murder.*' 

"You don't need to go on no farther, 
Mr. Carroll, because it's just wastin' y'r 
breath, see? Before I swing I'll tell who 
them other guys was, because I'd want 
them to do the same for me. But, sure's 
I stand here, I don't know about them bav- 
in' anything to do with the shootin'." 

"One of them might have killed Hamil- 



230 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

ton himself and planted the gun on you?" 

Hartigan shook his head with dogged 
loyalty. 

"I'll take my chances, Mr. Carroll. If 
they jack me up for murder, TU tell. But 
until they do an' Fm on trial FU stand my 
chances of the real murderer bein' caught. 
An' as for one of my pals plantin' th' rod 
on me — ain't I told you they was my pals? 
They wouldn't do nothin' like thatT 

"There's something about you, Harti- 
gan," declared Carroll spontaneously, 
"that I like." 

"An' there's some difference between 
you an' a 'tec' who makes up his mind that 
a certain chap is guilty 'cause he's got him 
with the goods, an' after that doesn't look 
no farther except to send the poor sucker 
up the river or maybe to the chair. That's 
all I gotta say." 

It was too much for the excitable Rol- 
lins. He swung on Carroll. 

"I'll take orders from you, Carroll'— but 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 231 

before Til stand up and let a damned yegg 
like him hand me that line o' talk TU re- 



sign an 

"Wait a minute," interrupted Hall. 
He crossed the room to the hall door and 
flung it open. Little Mrs. Faber, blink- 
ing and ill at ease and patently in the grip 
of a new and greater excitement, minced 
into the room. 

"Gentlemen," she said softly, very 
much impressed with the spotlight position 
she held, "the most marvellous thing has 
developed — the most unbelievable." 

"Yes, yes, Mrs. Faber. What is it?" 

"You would hardly believe it. Even 
ivhen Maggie — ^she's the cook — when she 
told me I just said to her: 'Maggie,' I 
said, 'if I didn't know ' " 

Eunice took a hand. She placed a hand 
lightly over the little housekeeper's lips. 

"What is it, Mrs. Faber? Tell us— 
please." 

"It's Ethel, your maid." 



232 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

'What about Ethel?" 

"Maggie just went up in the attic — 
and there she found Ethels bound and 
gagged and half deadT 




CHAPTER XIII 

HERE is she now?' flashed 
Carroll. 

A deep pink dyed the old 
lady's cheeks. 

"She's up there, tied, just like we found 
her." 

In spite of himself. Hall chuckled. 
Mrs. Faber swung on him in indignation. 

"Didn't I have orders to leave every- 
thing just like it was found"?" she de- 
manded irately. "And didn't we find her 
bound and gagged?" 

Her logic was unanswerable, and they 
followed her up the front staircase, down 
the hall, and thence to the attic. The at- 
tic itself belied its name. It was ceiled 
and comfortably plastered, and radiators 
gave testimony to the fact that Hamilton 
had provided top-floor warmth for the win- 

^133 



234 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

ter. In answer to a question as to where 
Ethel could be found, Mrs. Faber nodded 
mysteriously. 

"ril show you soon enough — just fol- 
low." 

She led the way to a door which she flung 
open, and Hall, Denson, Rollins and Car- 
roll — with Eunice and Harrelson in the 
rear — followed her into a small, neatly 
furnished, prettily decorated room, with 
chintz curtain over the window through 
which the morning sun streamed cheerily. 
The room itself was in perfect order; the 
bed had not been slept in, the dresser was 
neatly fixed, every chair in place. Carroll 
looked around curiously. 

"The maid, Mrs. Faber?' 

"I said she was in the attic,'' flashed the 
old lady, "and she is." 

"But this " 

"These are the servants' quarters. The 
attic is up yonder," and she indicated a 
flight of steps so steep as to resemble a lad- 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 235 

dcr which led from the maid's room 
through a trapdoor to a false attic or loft. 
Carroll and Rollins produced flash lights 
and mounted swiftly to the top. The girl 
was lying on the rough floor boarding 
which covered the beams, and over her 
hovered the extremely articulate and very 
solicitous Maggie, explaining vociferously 
why she could not unbind the cords which 
held the girl. Carroll produced a knife 
and in a few strokes released her. With 
which Ethel promptly fainted. 

It was the work of but a few minutes 
for Carroll and Rollins to bear her down 
the ladder and stretch her on the bed. 
Then the men retired, the door closed, and, 
after leaving his whisky flask for purposes 
of resuscitation, Rollins joined them. It 
was perhaps a half hour later that Mrs. 
Faber opened the door to announce that 
the combined efforts of herself, Eunice, 
and Maggie had succeeded in restoring 
Ethel to consciousness and that she could 



236 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

not talk now, thanks to a growing hysteria, 

"Rather peculiar she wasn't found when 
the house was first searched," volunteered 
Carroll. 

"No," answered Rollins; "I did not 
have a chance to go over things as I wanted 
to before I found Hartigan, and once I had 
him I thought the case was solved. And I 
left no orders for a search with my men 
here ; in fact, if Raff erty searched at all, it 
was on his own hook. So it isn't a bit pe- 
culiar." 

The men repaired downstairs and Doc- 
tor Robinson was summoned. It was 
more than an hour later that he came down 
from upstairs to announce that Ethel 
would see the detectives, but urging that 
she be made to talk as little as possible. 

"The poor girl has had a terrible time of 
it," said the man of medicine. "She has 
been lying in that cramped position and in 
constant terror for twelve hours. Be as 
easy with her as you can." 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 237 

They filed quietly up to the third floor 
^in and were admitted to the room 
ry Eunice. Hall, Denson, Rollins, and 
iarrelson took their places around the 
v^alls and Carroll drew a chair up to the 
>ed. His face, as he gazed compassion- 
itely at the overwrought, unstrung girl, 
vas that of a guileless boy; his eyes infi- 
litely kind. 

"Feeling better?" he asked soothingly. 

Tears filled the girl's eyes. Her body 
hook with sobs. Carroll touched her 
land gently. 

"There, there, my girl. You're all 
'ight now and in the hands of friends. I 
N2iVittd to ask you some questions, but if 
fon'rt feeling badly TU wait.*' 

"No — ^no — don't ! Mrs. Faber says it's 
mportant that you should be knowing 
everything right away. And, oh! — she 
;ays they killed Mr. Hamilton!" 

"Don't you worry about that; we're go- 
ng to catch the man who did it. Suppose 



338 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

you tell us what happened to you last 
night — ^if you feel well enough." 

'1 ain't f eelin' very well, sir, but I'll tell 
all I know. I — ^I'm feeling awful bad, sir, 
but there ain't no chance of my gettin' 
things wrong because I ain't been doin' 
nothing but lyin' up there, thinkin', for— 
it seems like twelve years 'stead of twelve 
hours, sir." 

She wiped the tears from her eyes, con- 
trolled herself with an effort, and went on 
with her story : 

"I come upstairs early last night, sir, so's 
to read a perfectly grand story in a maga- 
zine. I was readin' it when all of a sud- 
den I hear somebody outside. At first I 
think it's Donaldson — ^he's the new butler, 
sir ; but then I notice that the man who is 
walkin' has got rubber heels on, an' I know 
that Donaldson don't wear them, and 
neither does Mr. Hamilton. 

"Honest ! I got cold and hot all over at 
the same time. I run to the winder an' 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 239 

looked out to the garden. There was 
>ome one creepin' across t'ward that bush 
ponder '' 

Carroll walked to the window and 
looked. The bush in question was situ- 
ated about sixty feet from the house and 
directly in front of the big double doors 
opening from the living room onto the 
[irst-floor veranda. He interrupted the 
jirl : 

What sort of looking man was it"?" 
A big man, sir ; a very big man — ^not so 
tall, sir, but he looked awful big in the 
moonlight.'' 

"I see. Go ahead.*' 

"Well, at first I thought I would scream 
for help, but I knew if I did that the bur* 
glar outside " 

"You are sure it was a burglar?" 

"That's the first thing I thought of, sir; 
m' afterward, as I'm goin' to tell you, I 
Found out for sure it was. As I was sayin', 
;ir, I knew if I yelled he'd come in an' shoot 



5' 



240 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

me or cut my throat or do somethin' tc^ 
rible like that. So I just got down an' 
crawled under the bed, thinkin' that 
maybe, if I laid real quiet, he wouldn't do 
me no harm. 

"For a long time there wasn't any noise, 
an' then — oh, it was awful! — ^I seen my 
door openin', slow an' careful, so's it 
wouldn't creak. I was that scared I 
couldn't hardly breathe, an' was all 
cramped up with lyin' under th' bed, an' I 
got right hysterical. 

"The man come in the room an' walked 
all around. I had turned off my light, but 
there's a light right outside the door, an' 
that made the room pretty bright, an' I no- 
ticed that it was shinin' right on me where 
I was layin' under the bed. I was scared 
to stay where I was, 'cause all he'd of had 
to do to see me would of been to look. So 
I made up my mind to try to move ; that's 
where I made a terrible mistake, sir; be- 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 241' 
ause no sooner did I move than he heard 



ne. 



She stopped for a second and covered 
ler eyes with her hands, as though to shut 
>ut a vision of the nightmare. At length 
>he went on, although her voice was by no 
neans as steady as it had been : 

"He acted awful quick, sir — reached 
Dver an' turned on the light at the bulb 
with one hand an' took out a big revolver 
with the other " 

'*A-ah! He did have a revolver, 
dien?' 

"Cert'n'y, sir; don't all burglars carry 
revolvers T' 

"Some of 'em say they don't," broke in 
Rollins. The girl went on : 

"He took out this big revolver an' 
pointed it at the bed. 

" 'Come out of that!' he says real ter- 
rible an' gruff. 'Or, by God,' he says, just 
[ike that, TU shoot!' 



242 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"There wasn't nothin' else for me to do, 
sir, so I crawled out, an' when I made as if 
to scream he tells me if I do he's going to 
kill me right away; but if I don't make no 
noise no harm will come to me. So I told 
him I'd do anything if he just wouldn't 
kill me, an' he said that he'd have to bind 
me and put a piece of cloth in my mouth 
so I wouldn't scream, an' then I'd have 
to climb up them there steps into the 
attic, 

"I ast him what was he going to do with 
me when he got me there, an' he said he 
wasn't going to hurt me at all if I did that, 
but that he'd kill me if I didn't, or if I 
tried any foolishness. So I said all right, 
I'd do it. 

"He tied my hands behind my back, an', 
even if he was a burglar, he was a real gen- 
tle feller once he got started, because he 
kept askin' me was the rope too tight an' 
did it hurt too much an' sayin' he was sorry 
he had to do it, but safety first was his mot- 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 243 

tcr. Then, when he got me up there, he 
laid me down as easy as he could an' tied 
my feet together, said to wait for a couple 
of hours an' then commence kickin* on the 
floor an' some one would come an' let me 
free. 

"Then he goes down the ladder again 
and commences prowlin' about my room 
like he was waitin' for some one, I rolled 
over easy so's I could see the corner of the 
room by the door yonder, an' who should I 
see come up the stairs but Donaldson !" 

"Donaldson?" 

"The butler, sir. I held my breath, be- 
cause I knew right away that he was gonna 
shoot Donaldson, but he didn't do nothin' 
of the kind ; they shook hands an' started 
talkin', I was s'prised, sir, because it was 
like they was old friends. But still I 
thought maybe Donaldson didn't know 
that he was a burglar, an' I was just gonna 
make a noise when Donaldson says to him 
— ^he says : 



244 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

" 'Didja run into anybody up here, 
Lefty?' 

"An' then Lefty grins, just like that. 
Ych/ he says; 'some fool girl musta heard 
me an' was hidin' under the bed/ 

"Then Donaldson says — shall I use the 
very words, sir?" 

"Yes, my girl — the very words." 

"He says : *Damn the luck !' Just like 
that, sir. 'An' what did you do with her, 
Lefty? 

"With that the man he calls Lefty 
kinder grins. 'She's a nice, commonsense 
girl,' he says. 'I told her I'd kill her if she 
didn't do what I wanted, an' I've got her, 
bound an' gagged an' all trussed up nice, 
lyin' up in the attic yonder. By the time 
some one finds her we'll have made our get- 
away.' 

"Well, sir, I can't tell you how terrible 
shocked I was at findin' out Donaldson's 
true nature. That's the way with men, 
sir; you don't know no thin' about them un- 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 245 

til you happen to overhear somethin* like I 
done with Donaldson. Just think of the 
risk I'd been runnin' with him, sir; sleepin' 
right in th' next room, where he could come 
in any night an' cut my throat an' steal all 
my savings! It was just Gawd's provi- 
dence that he didn't. But there wasn't no 
use attractin' him for help — ^he'd most 
probably of come up an' killed me right 
then for makin' a noise. 

"He seemed awful pleased that this man 
Lefty had tied me up an' put me in that 
awful place up yonder, an' he said he 
didn't have nothin' else to fear because it 
was Maggie's night out. Then they 
started talkin' about other things. Lefty 
says to Donaldson : 

" 'How's things goin' ?' 

"Tine as prunes!' Donaldson says, 
smilin'. 'Conover's outside an' Harti- 
gan's on the first floor with enough boodle 
to keep us all rich for a year.' 



046 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

"Then Lefty shakes his head. 1 think 
I ought to get in on that/ he says- 

" 'Nothin' doin'/ says Donaldson. 
'Though we might give you a little rake- 
off. But you said all you wanted was 
them papers out of Mr. Hamilton's safe.' 

" *You got *em?' asks the burglar. 

"Donaldson nodded yes an' took a 
packet tied with red ribbon out of his 
pocket an' handed 'em to him. 'There 
they are — th' whole bunch. That's your 
end, less'n we want to divide with you.' 

" *Oh/ says the burglar, Tm gettin' out 
on the top side even if I don't get no coin! 
I guess I'd better be goin'.' 

" 'No time like now,' says Donaldson. 
*You go down the front steps, an' be 
mighty careful because old man Hamil- 
ton's in the lib'ry, an' he's got company. 
Tliey was raisin' some sort of hell' — that's 
just the word he used, sir, an' me thinkin' 
that he was a respectable man, sir — 'they 
was raisin' hell,' he says, 'last I saw of 'em. 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 247 

You'll find the latch on the front door 
loose. Take it easy, an\ whatever y* do, 
don't get caught/ 

" 1 won't/ says the other feller. 'No 
danger of that, I'll go right out th' front 
like I owned the house.' 

"So they talked a little more, an' then 
Donaldson says: If you meet anybody 
there ain't to be no shootin', understand"? 
Just beat it back upstairs an' I'll take care 
of you.' 

" 1 ain't no gunman/ says the burglar. 

" 'You got a gat, ain't you?' asks Don- 
aldson. 

" 'Yes,' he says; ^but so has Red Harti- 
gan, an' he ain't no gunman.' 

" 'Hartigan ain't got a gun/' says Don- 
aldson. 'I searched him 'cause I didn't 
want no rough stuff.' " 

"Just one minute," interrupted Carroll. 
"You are quite positive that Donaldson 
said he had searched Hartigan and that 
Hartigan did not have a gun?" 



048 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

''Yes " 

''What's that got to do with it?' broke 
in Rollins roughly. "Didn't we find the 
gun on Hartigan?" 

"Well, they tell each other good-bye, 
an' Donaldson repeats that there ain't to 
be no shootin', an' then the burglar goes 
downstairs, soft an' easy, 

"For a few minutes after he's gone Don- 
aldson stands there like he's thinkin' about 
somethin', an' then he begins to smile. 
Then he comes into my room an' stands at 
the foot of them there steps an' calls up to 
me. 

" 'Don't be worried, Ethel,' he says, 
I'm goin' downstairs for a minute, an' as 
soon as I come back I'll let you loose/ 

"An' I didn't answer him, sir; I wouldn't 
talk to that kind of a man, an', besides," 
naively, "that rag was in my mouth an' I 
couldn't. So he goes downstairs, an' there 
I lay, sir; couldn't move nor nothin* an' 
frightened to death with all I'd been 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 249 

through an' seen, an' after about five or ten 
minutes, sir — I'm not sure just how long 
it was — there came two shots ^" 

',Two?' 

"It sounded like either two or three, sir. 
The first one or two, whichever it was, 
come right together; but the other one, 
which come five or six seconds later, 
seemed to me it came from the garden/' 

'"Why did it sound that way ? Explain 
what you mean." 

"It was a different sound, sir; there 
wasn't no echo to it like there was to the 
first shot." 

"Cinch!" broke in Rollins quickly. 
"The first shot was really two an' seemed 
like an echo. The second come from 
Hartigan an' didn't have no echo." 

"That may be right," agreed Carroll 
complacently. "And now, just to make 
sure — would you recognize the burglar if 
you saw him, Ethel?" 

"Yes, sir; surely, sir." 



250 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

Carroll immediately dispatched Hall 
downstairs with instructions to have 
Roberts bring Hartigan to the girl's room. 
In five minutes Hall was back, and behind 
him the inmiense figure of the wounded 
burglar. 

"Is that the man?" queried Carroll. 

The girl glanced at him briefly. 

"No, sir; certainly not. The man they 
called Lefty was an undersized runt of a 
man, not like this one at all !'' 



CHAPTER XIV 

THE passing of the hours had 
served only to complicate the 
Hamilton case. At the outset it 
had been pregnant with the unusual, but 
not fraught with any very great mystery. 
Now, however, the aspect had altered. 

In the beginning David Carroll had be- 
fore him the fact of the murder and three 
persons who confessed to the crime. In 
addition to that he had a notorious crim- 
inal whose coincidental presence at the 
scene of the shooting had fastened about 
him a web of circumstantial evidence suf- 
ficient to convict before the most open- 
minded jury. 

But now it had changed. Proof, of an 
almost incontrovertible nature, had been 
furnished that neither Eunice Duval nor 
her fiance had killed Hamilton ; the bullet 

2SI 



252 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

from the revolver which Eunice had used 
had been located at a point where it could 
not have gone had either Badger or Harti- 
gan fired it. It was fairly well settled 
that Vincent Harrelson had not fired. 
And Badger's shot had been accounted for 
as the one which had wounded Hartigan. 

There was the matter of the six seconds 
of darkness, already explained by Harti- 
gan's perf^tly plausible confession that 
he had extinguished the lights to facilitate 
his escape and turned them on again after 
being shot so as to avoid detection in his 
sanctuary behind the screen. It had also 
been pretty well proven that three shots 
were fired; Badger's and Eunice's in the 
first few seconds of darkness, neither shot 
of which struck Hamilton, and the fatal 
shot, which was fired immediately after the 
lights went on. 

By a simple process of deduction, that 
shot must have been fired by Hartigan; 
yet, if it were true that Badger's bullet 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 253 

had found its mark in Hartigan's arm, the 
burglar's contention that he had not fired 
at all must be believed. His wrist was 
shattered by the bullet, and firing a re- 
volver with that hand would have been out 
of the question, and investigation had 
fairly well proven that Hartigan was not 
capable of shooting with his left hand. 

On the face of the evidence it seemed 
patent that Hartigan must be the guilty 
man, yet Carroll entertained grave doubts. 
He wanted to know more about the yegg 
whom Donaldson had addressed so famili- 
arly as "Lefty,'' and there was still the but- 
ler to be accounted for. Besides, the maid 
had insisted stubbornly that in spite of her 
hysteria she had noticed that the sound of 
the final shot was clearer and more distinct 
than its predecessors — ^she inmiediately 
had asserted that it must have come from 
the garden. 

They had left the maid upstairs in the 
care of Mrs. Faber, and of Maggie, the 



254 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

cook. They assembled in the living room, 
Carroll and two of his men — the third hav- 
ing Hartigan in a chair on the veranda; 
Eunice and Vincent Harrelson; Police 
Commissioner Hall and Denson, the law- 
yen And last, but undeniably not least, 
was Barrett Rollins, chief of the city's 
plain-clothes detective force. 

Rollins was seated near the door 
through which Hamilton and young Vin- 
cent had struggled just before the former 
was killed. His straight-legged chair was 
tilted back against the wall, his broganed 
feet battered viciously against the slender 
legs, a rank pipe was clenched firmly be- 
tween his none-too-even teeth — ^unlighted. 
His clothes, although very quiet and im- 
maculately pressed, gave a subtle impres- 
sion of untidiness — it may have been the 
narrow collar or the crooked set of his tie ; 
but, whatever it was, the professional de- 
tective seemed out of place in the picture. 

Furthermore, he was nervous and 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 255 

fidgety, and that despite the fact that he 
was making a visible effort to keep himself 
under control. Hall, glancing at him not 
unkindly — for he admired the man's in- 
domitable will and unflinching courage 
even while he detested him personally — 
imagined that he was still chafing at the 
bit, disgusted with Carroirs elevation to a 
position above him on the present case. 

And, yet, Hall was glad now that he 
had summoned Carroirs aid. If he had 
done nothing else, Carroll had at least 
proved that the three original confessors 
— two of whom really believed their guilt 
— ^had not killed Hamilton. He had not 
done it with any display of mental pyro- 
technics, with any pussy-footing around 
with an eye glued to a magnifying glass; 
yet he had done it. His methods had been 
simple to the point of being ludicrous — 
as he himself had explained, he had sim- 
ply set out to marshal all facts and sepa- 
rate the relevant from the irrelevant, then 



356 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

to weigh the pros and cx)ns of the former 
in the balance. 

Rollins, Hall fancied, would have done 
nothing of the kind. From the moment 
Rollins had appeared at headquarters close 
on to midnight of the previous day, he 
had stubbornly — almost too stubbornly — 
maintained that Red Hartigan was the 
murderer. 

There was sound reasoning behind his 
contention ; no doubt about that, for in the 
first place Rollins knew nothing about 
Frederick Badger. Hall wondered idly 
why Carroll had kept all knowledge of 
Badger from Rollins. He knew that Car- 
roll did nothing without a motive, but 
what particular object that move could 
have in view he was unable to understand. 
That it had one he did not doubt; but 
what? 

A half dozen times since then the nat- 
ural antagonism between the polished, 
placid Carroll and the brusque, almost bni- 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 257 

tal Rollins had flared to the point of physi- 
cal clash. The men seemed to be going to 
opposite extremes in the matter; Rollins 
eager to drop the case, Carroll just as de- 
termined to stick to it until every little 
detail was known to him. Carroll's was 
the best method theoretically; Rollins' was 
more conducive to speed. And now that 
the only remaining suspect was a profes- 
sional burglar, Hall felt quite willing that 
the man should take his chances before a 
jury of twelve of his peers. 

At that, Hall could not understand the 
part the butler had played in the tragedy. 
The man had been a new one in Hamil- 
ton's employ, true; but Hall knew the 
dead man well enough to realize that he 
would have employed no male domestic on 
the strength of anything but the very best 
of references. It was inconceivable that 
the man was what circumstances indicated. 

The facts of the burglary were plain 
enough; the butler helping Hartigan and 



2^8 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

the man called Lefty on the inside of the 
house, while a fourth kept watch outside. 
Not by any means an original plan of pro- 
cedure, yet one which, in view of what had 
transpired, complicated things consider- 
ably. 

There was, for instance, the matter of 
Hartigan's revolver, from which one bul- 
let had been fired. Hartigan had stub 
bornly maintained that he had no revolveii 
although his contention in itself was sub- 
ject to a hundred-per-cent discount in 
view of the fact that such a statement, if 
believed, would automatically absolve 
him. But there was the gun — ^and in con- 
travention of the damning fact and in sup- 
port of Hartigan's statement there was the 
casual story of the maid recounting the 
conversation between the butler and Lefty 
regarding Hartigan's revolver; the latter's 
contention that Hartigan did carry a gun 
and the former's that he had searched him 
and was positive that he did not. 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 259 

Summed up, three of the original prin- 
cipals in the case had been cleared abso- 
lutely; the fourth had developed mitigat- 
ing evidence. And the question of who 
actually killed Hamilton was apparently 
farther from solution than it had been a 
half hour after the crime was committed. 

It was at this juncture, when matters 
had apparently reached an impasse, that 
the telephone on the centre table jangled 
impatiently. Carroll rose to answer it. 
The forelegs of Rollins' chair came down 
slowly to the floor. 

"Hello, hello I Yes, this is Mr. Car- 
roll. Oh, that you, Donaldson?" 

"Yes, indeed." 

Rollins' eyes popped open. Hall and 
Denson rose abruptly and stood rigidly by 
their chairs. Donaldson! Donaldson, 
the butler! Asking for and speaking to 
Carroll! And Carroll apparently not at 
all surprised. Carroll's voice went on 
smoothly : 



26o SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

""Good! . • . Thaf 5 fine . . . Yes, at 
Hamilton's house. . • . Come oq down, 
won't yoa? . . . Yes. ... Good-bye?" 

He placed tlie receiver gently on the 
hoc^ and turned smilingly to face the 
others; the group whose blank faces and 
eyes gave evidence to the surprise they 
felt. A dull flush had mounted to Rol- 
lins' forehead — it was as thoug^i he had 
been tricked, and he was angry. It was 
Rollins who spoke : 

'^Who was that on the i^one then, Mr. 
Carroll «" 

""Just Donaldson," came the quiet an- 
swer. *T had been waiting for that calL" 

Rollins leaned forward tensely. 

'Y^ou had been waitin' for Donaldson 
to call you?^ 

'"Why, yes! What's wrong about 
that?' 

Rollins produced a large handkerchief, 
lavender-bordered, and mopped his fore- 
head 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 261 

**Wliat th' hell does it all mean?' he 
asked peculiarly. "I don't seem to git it." 

"Nor I," chimed in Denson. 

"Nor do I, Mr. Carroll," said Hall. 
"Whatisitr 

"Very simple," came the placid answer. 
^'Donaldson is one of the best detectives on 
my personal staff T 

A sudden blank silence fell upon them. 
Rollins rose abruptly and walked to the 
window. 

"You didn't tell us/' accused Denson. 
Hall nodded. 

"No-o," said Carroll slowly; "there 
wasn't any use. You see, I knew who 
Donaldson was, and I wasn't at all wor- 
ried over his complicity in the affair. So 
now that we're all satisfied there's " 

Rollins whirled and confronted Carroll 
with a return of his old belligerence. 

"We're not I" he snapped furiously. 
"Not by a dam' sight ! S'pose you are in 
charge of this case— does that give you any 



262 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

right to make a fool outa mc? Huh! 
Does it?" 

Carroll controlled himself beautifully; 
almost too well. 

'"Here, here! What's all the excite^ 
ment, Rollins?" 

"Excitement enough. Whatcha think 
I am, a schoolboy? A correspondence- 
school detective? Huh? I ask you 
that? Well, if you want to know what 
I think of it — I think you an' your whole 
messy crowd can go plumb to the devil! 
Get that?" 

"Wait a minute, Rollins; wa-a-a-it a 
minute ! You're flying off the handle too 
quick." 

"It's none of your business. You've 
had me trotting around with you like a 
monkey on the end of a string. You ain't 
told me a thing more than you've told any 
one else. You got me to sit up here an' 
make a fool of myself when all the time 
you knew Donaldson was in on the know 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 263 

It. Fm finished! Done I That goes 
>he lays, Mr. Hall. You can take my 
gnation an' make this tea-hound, five- 
ock-in-the-afternoon detective head of 
ir plain-clothes force. Bull ! A swell 
I you'd make, Carroll I Why, by 

d " 

3ut Carroll refused to lose his temper, 
tead, his voice took on an almost plead- 
note, and he laid his hand lightly on 
llins' arm. 

'Come, come now, old man I" he said in 
heedling tone. "That's no way to lose 
ir head. What if I did keep you in the 
k about being wise to Donaldson*? 
I't you see that I was only doing it to 
e my own face in case he flivvered? 
it suppose I went spouting around that 
naldson was on my staff, and suppose 
had double-crossed me and really made 
et-away; Fd have been a sweet laugh- 
stock then, Rollins. Can't you see 
t? Sure you can — ^you know you'd 



264 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

play the game the same way. I'll bet you 
know something about this very case that 
I don't know; hey?'* 

Rollins subsided suddenly, apparently 
mollified. 

"Whatdaya mean/' he growled surlily, 
"I know somethin' about this case?" 

"Haven't you run across some little clue 
or something that you've kept to yourself; 
just some little tiny thing that you're try- 
ing to run down on your own so as to show 
me up?" 

Rollins was plainly at a loss for an in- 
terpretation of Carroll's meaning. 

"Come now," pursued the smaller man, 
"isn't that a fact?" 

Rollins' big hands went to his hips, and 
he stared into Carroll's eyes aggressively. 

"What in th' hell you drivin' at?" he 
questioned furiously. "Tryin' to make a 
monkey out of me again? 'Cause if you 



are ^" 



"No, indeed; believe me, Rollins, noth- 



<«T J 9^ ^1 fi 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 265 

ing is farther from my mind. If I've done 
you an injustice, Fm sorry. Only, please, 
for the sake of the audience, let us not have 
any more of this eternal bickering and 
recrimination. It don't get either of us 
anywhere, and one of these times you'll go 
too far.' 

I don't give a- 

'*WhoaI Careful, Rollins; no use 
straining good nature to the breaking 
point. Now let's be sensible." 

Rollins subsided as suddenly as he had 
flared up. He seated himself again and 
tilted his chair back against the wall with 
assumed nonchalance. 

"If that's the case," he said, "s'pose you 
tell us how Donaldson happens to be your 
detective." 

"No-o, I'm afraid I can't do that." 

"You mean you won't I"- 

"Please don't translate my meanings to 
fit your beliefs. I said that I can't and I *^ 
mean can't! My original business, the 



266 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

thing which resulted in Donaldson's em- 
ployment in this household as butler, had 
nothing whatever to do with this murder 
case. And I don't care to discuss the busi- 
ness of the man who has paid me a re- 
tainer. That's all." The suspicion of a 
twinkle flashed in Carroll's eyes as he 
added briefly: "That must appeal to 
your sense of ethics." 

Rollins shook his head. 

"Sounds like foolishness to me," he said. 
"An' if you're goin' to keep things to your- 
self I don't see what you want me hangin' 
around for." He started to rise, but Car- 
roll motioned him back. 

"No, rd rather have you stay. Just as 
I've told those gentlemen — there's always 
more than an even chance that my mind 
will get on the wrong track and that FU 
make a mistake somewhere — ^and just as 
two heads are better than one, four are 
better than three." 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 267 

"Especially/' snapped Rollins, "where 
one of 'em's solid ivory." 

Carroll grinned amiably. 

".Yes, especially where one is of solid 
ivory." 

The front-door bell rang twice — then 
once. Carroll strode toward the hall door. 

"Donaldson," he flung back; "I'm sure 
that's who it is." 

He disappeared into the hall, and 
within three minutes was back, followed 
by Donaldson, unkempt, his face showing 
the lack of sleep the previous night, his 
clothes streaked with dirt. Nor was Don- 
aldson alone. On the ex-butler's right 
wrist was one of a pair of handcuffs. The 
other handcuff was tightly clamped on the 
wrist of the slender, furtive-eyed man with 
him. The two handcuffs were connected 
by a competent-looking chain. 

As for the stranger, he, too, was dishev- 
elled; it was quite evident that his capture 



268 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

had not been unresisted. He glanced ap- 
prehensively about the room, and finally 
his eyes rested on Barrett Rollins* He 
sighed and chewed nervously at his under 
lip. 

''Who is that with you, Donaldson?" 
questioned Carroll innocently. 

The butler smiled slightly and wared 
his free hand toward the captive. 

"Mister Lefty Scammon, alias Shifty, 
alias a half dozen other things." 

"And why did you make him prisoner?" 

Donaldson smiled the smile of supreme 
triiunph. It was his big moment. 

"Lefty Scammon," he said oracularly, 
"w the man who murdered Mr. Hamil" 
tonr 



CHAPTER XVi 

THE rapid-fire development of the 
unusual in the last fourteen hours 
had brought Police Commissioner 
Hall to the belief that surprise had lost 
its edge for him; he had rather fancied that 
he could no longer be stirred from his men- 
tal equilibrium by any new developments 
in the Hamilton case. 

The announcement that the missing but- 
ler was a detective on CarrolFs private and 
very efficient staff had merely ruffled his 
complacency. But Donaldson's calm and 
triumphant accusation that Lefty Scam- 
mon was Hamilton's murderer completely 
destroyed his aplomb. He sank weakly 
into a chair. 

Nor was he more surprised than the 
others in the room — except perhaps Car- 
roll. But, then, thought the commis- 



270 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

sioner, facial control was a vital part of 
Carroll's stock in trade, and the chances 
were 

Rollins had tensed rigidly. His eyes 
bored into those of the new suspect. Hall 
shifted his gaze from Rollins' face to that 
of Lefty Scammon, and what he read there 
jarred him again. 

For, beyond a question of doubt. Lefty 
Scammon was stunned with surprise. For 
perhaps fifteen seconds he tried to speak, 
opening his mouth and closing it again 
without uttering a sound other than a 
choked gurgle. Carroll strolled to the big 
doors and nodded briefly to Roberts, who 
entered the room, followed by the 
wounded Hartigan. The tableau would 
have been ludicrous were it not so fraught 
with melodramatic intensity. 

And finally Scammon regained his 
speech. 

'"Wha-whadaya think of that!" he 
gasped. "Oh, my Gawd, whadaya think 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 271 

of that! Red — they got me for killin' 
Hamilton !" 

Hartigan's poise was perfect. He 
merely shrugged. 

**That's a habit of theirs, Lefty. They 
got me for the same thing." 

The dry himiour of his remark, and the 
fact that it was timed to break into a si- 
lence so tense as to be nerve-wrecking, 
brought involuntary smiles to the faces of 
all in the room. The terribly grim humour 
of the situation could not fail to appear to 
overwrought nerves. It was Rollins who 
broke in, roughly as usual. 

"A lot o' rot!" he raved. "Hartigan is 
the man who done it, an' that's all there is 
to it!" 

Donaldson turned to Carroll. 

"What's that he's sayin', chief? Does 
he really think Hartigan done it?" 

"So he says," returned Carroll. "What 
do you think about it?" 

"He's wrong," came back Donaldson 



272 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

respectfully. "Y'see, chief, I searched 
Hartigan before the burglary, an' he didn't 
pack a rod at all." 

"You are quite sure of that?" 

"Positive." 

"How so?' 

"I searched him. Y' see, I was in on it, 
and I wasn't runnin' any chances of rough 
stuff — ^which is just what happened." 

"The third man concerned; who was 
he?" 

"A yegg they call Pal Conover; yeller 
as a dog. He beat it when the thing 
started — scared stiff. He didn't have a 
gun, either. This here bird," indicating 
Lefty Scammon, "was the only one who 
had one." 

Scammon whirled on it. 

"That's a damned lie, Donaldson, an' 
you know it. Didja find a gun on me?" 

"Not after I caught you, no," returned 
the ex-butler. "But it wasn't so hard to 
chuck it away." 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 273 

^Tfeh!" gibed Scammon, with forced 
bravado. "Go look for it. Y'd know it 
in a minute. See if you find it ; there ain't 
no chancst of y'r missing it — one of the 
plates on the butt is cracked in an L shape. 
G'wan look for it; see if y' find it." 

"Which means/' interjected Carroll 
quietly, "that he is quite sure you will not 
find it there." 

"Ain't it pretty rough jackin' this man 
up for murder," butted in Rollins, "just 
because he had a gat in his pocket?" 

"No-o," negatived Carroll, "I can't see 
that it is. He had the motive for shooting 
and he had the weapon. What more is 
needed?" 

"Proof !" snarled Rollins. "Just proof, 
that's all. An' that's th' one thing you 
don't seem to pay no attention to." 

"Perhaps not, perhaps not. Suppose," 
turning to Donaldson, "you tell us just 
what occurred, from first to last." 

"Everything?" 



274 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

* 

"The whole business from the time you 
first came here to work for Mr. Hamilton." 

Donaldson seemed not at all averse to 
holding the centre of the stage. He 
started deliberately and talked clearly and 
distinctly throughout his story. 

"About a month ago, the chief — ^Mr. 
Carroll here — sends for me; Tm working 
in Chicago then. He tells me that he's 
been retained by this man Hamilton to 
gather evidence for some graft investiga- 
tion directed against the police force. Fm 
to work in Mr. Hamilton's house as butler, 
him, of course, knowing that I'm a 'tec. 

"I take the job, my work bein' to watch 
an' see that there ain't no attempt made 
to get away with a bunch of documentary 
evidence that Mr. Hamilton has in his 
safe; evidence that ain't any too sweet 
readin' to certain eyes. It seemin' as 
though th' parties goin' to be caught in 
th' dragnet was wise that it was kept in 
this house. 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 275 

"Things run along pretty easy for a 
while, an' then I meets up with this guy 
Scammon. Right away I spot him for a 
crook, an' I know he must have somethin' 
up his sleeve or he wouldn't be hangin' 
around an' buyin' me drinks whenever we 
got alone together. 

**There ain't no special use in goin' into 
details of how I played this fish for a sucker 
— ^but the long and short of it is that in 
about two weeks I had him thinking I was 
the charter member of the independent 
order of yeggs. 

"Then his proposition comes; he don't 
tell me nothin' about no graft investiga- 
tion, but he says that he's in with the police 
— ^stool pigeon, see? — an' that certain 
parties what is goin' to be caught wrong 
in this graft thing has framed up a bur- 
glary. 

"Of course I knew what they was after. 
That there evidence Mr. Hamilton had 
was about all the written dope there 



276 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

was. Once let the right ones get their 
hands on it an' bum it up, Hamilton an' 
his Civic Reform League would have made 
fools outa themselves tryin' to prove any- 
thing. 

''So Scammon tells me that this here 
yegg job is under the protection of the 
police department; that him an' Red Har- 
tigan an' this here yeller dog, Pal Con- 
over, is goin' to work; me helpin' from the 
inside. That's to make it look real, see? 
Scanunon says me an' th' other two can 
divide the boodle, all he wants is some 
papers outa th' safe. 

"Well, sir, a blind man could of seen 
through that game. It was too easy. An' 
I wasn't tellin' it to Mr. Hamilton, either; 
me figurin' — whether I was right or wrong 
— that he micht spill the beans when the 
time come. 

"I framed the night myself; Maggie was 
out, an' I thought Ethel was goin' out, too. 
She had asked for the evenin' off, an' I 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 277 

thought she'd got it. So I tol' 'em to come 
early, which they done; they was in the 
house when that young gentleman there 
come in. 

"Things worked fine; Red an' me bun- 
dled up all the joolry and silver, an' I got 
him down in the dinin* room. Then I 
went back upstairs to the attic, where I 
found that Ethel hadn't gone out at all, 
but that Lefty had run foul of her, trussed 
her up, an' stuck her in the attic — ^which 
reminds me I forgot all about her." 

"We found her," reassured Carroll. 
"She's all right." 

"Good ! I'll bet the poor kid was scared 
stiff. Anyway, Lefty had took his papers 
outa th' safe in Mr. Hamilton's bedroom 
— one of these here cheese boxes that's an 
insult to a good cracksman — an' he was 
satisfied. So I sends him downstairs with 
instructions to vamose outa th' front door, 
waitin' in th' garden for Hartigan. 

"I goes down, an' Red is still in th' din- 



278 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

in' room. He says he thinks he hears some 
one in the living room, so I walk in there. 
It's empty, Mr. Hamilton an' Mr. Harrel- 
son bein' in the library. So I come back 
an' tip Red off he can slip behind the screen 
in the livin' room an' out through the win- 
der, which was half open — which same he 
says he'll do, an' I go upstairs to Mr. Ham- 
ilton's room to put th' papers back in th' 
safe." 

"What papers?" The question came 
from Commissioner Hall. 

'Th' evidence Mr. Hamilton had.' 

"But I thought you said — 

•'Oh ! That bunch that Lefty Scammon 
had? Gee, I ain't that soft! The stuff 
he got wasn't nothin' but copies. We still 
got the originals safe an' sound !" 

''0-o-oh!" A sigh of surprise went up 
from somewhere in the room. Donaldson 
chuckled softly and continued : 

"That was where my job ended. I had 
all the dope on the men who were in the 



laa," 



robbery, an* tUty tlitin't have nactun' but 
«ofn« hliie ilthmwntu that tliiln't tlo 'em 
lui gtKHl, an' I had (Im: naine of the man 
wlio wa« behind the thing — it wasn't siu-h 
a hard job gettin* that into, either, Kven 
A triHtWll talk too much ii you go at him 
fight." 

He pau^d tor a tjetond, 

"But rigttt tl^re wa4 where things 
started goin* wrong, All of a sudden 
tliere was two slwts from tfie living room 
an' a sort of a trash. I made a jump for 
t))e winder, an' while I looked I seen lights 
tome on downstairs wltere everything hod 
been dark, an' just tlten some one sltot 
ugain fron» l)ehind that bush yonder^^ 
At)out lifty ittt away from tl>e livi»*»ruom 
door that opens of)to tl^ veranda, 

"An* then I seen a man runnin' iiwfty-=^ 
jutit as fatit as he could travel. 

"An', gentleo)en, I'm liere to swear by 
tfverythin' in tl)e world tlmt th' mm who 
jum|)ed up an' beat it tft^r Hrin' thut ibot 



28o SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

was this here Mister Lefty Scammon! I 
could see him that plain in th' moonlight!" 

There followed five seconds of stunned 
silence. Carroll broke in with his quiet, 
soothing voice : 

"And after that?' 

'*Well, sir, I plumb forgot all about 
Ethel bein' tied up in the attic. I forgot 
everything except that somethin' rotten 
had happened. Who Lefty had shot or 
why I didn't know. I beat it down th' 
front steps, through the library, an' outa 
the window to the veranda. I scooted 
down past the door an' looked in — there 
was Miss Eunice an' Mr. Harrelson 
bendin' over Mr. Hamilton. I knew, no 
matter how bad he was hurt, they'd see he 
got the best of attention. My job was 
clear — it was up to me to catch Scammon, 
an' I lit a rag after him. 

"An', believe me, this bird is some elu- 
sive kid ! An' when I got him he put up a 
fair good scrap for such a little fellow. 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 281 

But here he is — an' here" — ^he slipped deft 
fingers into Scammon's coat pocket and 
produced a packet — "is the batch of fake 
evidence that I planted for him to steal." 

Carroll approached Lefty Scammon. 

"What have you to say for yourself, 
Scammon?" 

"Nothin'." 

"You realize we've got you in a tight 
place?" 

"I've been in tight places before." 

"Now don't be a fool, Lefty. Facing 
a burglary charge and going into the dock 
with a murder indictment and this sort of 
evidence against you are different things ; 
you're liable to swing." The man looked 
up, the light of a cornered rat in his eyes. 

"I toF you I didn't have nothin' to say, 
an' that goes!" he snapped viciously. 
"You can take your third-degree stuflF to 
hell with you!" 

But Carroll refused to be ruflBled. He 
turned to Rollins. 



282 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

'*We'vc got him, haven't we, Rollins?' 

The detective shrugged. 

'*He says he didn't do it." 

"But we've got the goods on him; you'll 
admit yourself that he hasn't got a chance, 
won't you?" Rollins' face flamed. 

*Tm admit tin' nothin'. This is your 
case ; go handle it your own way." 

"I'm afraid it's the chair for you, Scam- 
mon," said Carroll sadly. "We've got 
you where we want you, and we're going 
to make you pay. Rollins, you sec, don't 
want to say anything officially because he 
has resigned from the police force ^" 

"What's that?" gasped Scammon. 

"It's a lie!" flashed Rollins. 

Carroll turned quietly to Hall. 

"This is the police commissioner, Scam- 
mon. Mr. Hall, didn't Rollins resign his 
position on the force a few minutes back?" 

Hall took his cue cleverly. 

"Yes," he answered promptly, "and his 
resignation is accepted." 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 283 

Rollins would have interrapted, but 
Carroll ordered him back. Scammon 
turned large, hunted eyes to him. 

"You're tellin' me th' truth?' he 
pleaded. "Honest t' Gawd you ain't 
lyin'r' 

"What I've said is on the level, Scam« 
mon " 

"It's a dirty lie!" from Rollins 

"It's the truth!" verified Hall. 

"Then," said Scammon simply, "there 
ain't a chancst for me, an' I'm not gonna 
be th' goat. S'long's Rollins was th' head 
of the plain-clothes squad I was ready to 
take chances, but now there's " 

This time Rollins spoke. He shook his 
fist in the ratlike face of the little man. 

"You dam' little runt " 

"You can't scare me, Rollins," he said 
quietly. He turned to Carroll. ''RoU 
lins^ here^ is the man who murdered Ham'- 
iltonr 



CHAPTER XVI 

IN the face of a crisis a man will ex- 
hibit courage or cowardice. And 
Barrett Rollins, accused at the 
eleventh hour of a crime with which he had 
apparently had no connection, played his 
role well. 

He did not bluster; he did not shrink. 
Instead, he seemed suddenly cool — al- 
though one might have noticed an occa- 
sional biting of his lips, a twitching of his 
huge, muscular hands, a furtive glance 
from the corners of his little eyes. 

For Rollins was cornered. The chain 
of evidence woven so cleverly by circum- 
stance around the other principals in the 
drama had suddenly wound itself about 
him. With Scanunon's accusation, loose 

ends of the story seemed to meet — or al- 

284 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 285 

most so. But Rollins played his hand 
gamely. For the first time in the course 
of the case he won the sincere admiration 
of Commissioner Hall and of Denson, the 
lawyer. 

So cool was he, in fact, so seemingly con- 
temptuous of Scanmion's charge, that Hall 
could not bring himself to believe that the 
man was guilty. The idea was too pre- 
posterous; too far-fetched. And yet 
Scammon's voice had carried conviction of 
knowledge, Scammon's whole demeanour 
had implied verity. And instead of al- 
lowing himself to lose control Rollins 
merely shrugged. 

^'Damned nonsense!'* was all he said. 

Carroll had not changed his expression. 

"For your sake, Rollins, I hope so.'' 

"I didn't ask for any soft stuff from you, 
Carroll. An ass of your type would most 
likely believe this crook's story." 

"Ye-e-s, he most likely would." Car- 
roll turned back to Scammon. "Now 



286 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

listen here, Lefty — ^if you can prove the 
charge youVe just made you're in a fair 
way to get clear of this murder charge. 
Burglary you're in for, whether or no. 
Take my advice and come clean with the 
whole story. Are you willing?" 

The expression of the little fellow was 
almost pitiful. 

"Sure I am, sir. As I said, sir, I wasn't 
squealin' on no pal — s'long's Rollins was 
on the force I knowed he'd see me safe 
through some way. But maybe I'd better 
tell all of it like it happened." 

"D'yuh mean," growled Rollins inter- 
rogatively, ''that you're gonna sit there an' 
listen to his drivel?" 

"Yes, I guess we'd better. They've all 
had a chance to talk except Scammon. Go 
ahead. Lefty." 

The little man passed a nervous hand 
across his lips. 

"All th' beginnin' of my story goes 
pretty well with what this fly cop," indi- 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 287 

eating Donaldson, "said. Only one thing 
is different ; th' man who came to me with 
the proposition was Chief Rollins yonder. 
He said that Hamilton had some papers in 
his safe which he wanted. He seemed 
to know all about what they were an' 
all. 

"He said he wanted me to get a coupla 
good yeggs an' work the house. Wanted 
to make it look like th' real thing, see ; so's 
when they found th' stuff was gone they'd 
think it had just been took accidentallike 
wit' th' rest of th' swag. Th' thing looked 
pretty easy, 'specially after I managed to 
strike up an acquaintance wit' this here 
guy. I t'ought he was th' butler, see? 
Well, he comes across elegant. I was a 
boob for not knowin' he was too easy, but 
how was I to know they was lookin' for 
just this kind of a move? 

"Him an' Red Hartigan an' Pal Con- 
over was to divide what they got. I was 
to get th' things Rollins wanted an' meet 



288 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

him out yonder by that bush, y' sec about 
fifty or sixty feet beyond th' porch door. 
Of course, havin' th' butler fixed, it looked 
easy. An' there wasn't no chancst for me 
to do Rollins dirt, 'cause he had th' goods 
on me for another little job of mine, an 
he said he'd send me up if I didn't come 
across fair an' square. Oh, I ain't even 
squealin' on him now because I want to — 
th' chief has always treated me right; but 
murder I won't face for no man. 

"All what th' butler — Donaldson — ^says 
about th' robbery happened just like that. 
I got down t' th' front hall an' out into th' 
garden. It was pretty bright, an' I didn't 
have no trouble spottin' th' bush Rollins 
was hid behind, see ? I had th' packet in 
me pocket — ^an' I had my gun out." 
"You had your revolver in your hand?" 
"Sure, a .38 special wit' one of the butt 
plates busted. I had took it out when I 
got t' th' bottom of th' front stairs, because 
there was two fellers quarrellin' hell bent 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 289 

for 'lection in th' room yonder, an' I wasn't 
takin' no chances if they should of hap- 
pened to run up on me — ^y'see, they don't 
usually ask no questions of burglars — they 
shoot. 

"Anyway, I creeps along slow an' easy, 
gun out an' th' papers in my pocket, until 
I gets t' th' bush. There was Rollins lyin' 
there comfy -an' easy. As I get there he 
grabs me. 

" 'Duck, you dam' fool, duck!' he says. 
'Lookit there !' 

"He points to th' winder of this here 
room, which we could see real plain, them 
there big, double doors bein' opened. 
Rollins was all excited. 

" They'll make it easy f'r me!' he says. 
Xookit!' 

"A big man an' a little man was scrap- 
pin', an' then, all of a suddint, th' little 
feller tears loose an' makes a break for th' 
table. He yanks out a gun, an' before he 
can shoot th' big feller grabs him. 



290 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

" 1 hope he gets him!' Rollins was 
sayin' over an' over again. 'I hope he kills 
that — ^Hamilton I' 

"Just then th' lights went out — ^flooic! 
just like that. There was two shots, or 
one, I ain't sure which. Then th' lights 
flashed on in about five or six seconds. 
There they was, standin' up kinder funny, 
an' th' young lady yonder had the revolver 
in her hand. This geezer Hamilton was 
starin' around like he didn't know what to 
make of it, an' Rollins lets out a line of 
cuss words that'd of burned if you'd of 
touched a match to 'em. 

" 'Missed him,' he says, fiercelike. 'By 
God, I'll get him myself I' 

''An' with that he outs with his gat an 
takes one crack at Hamilton. An', b'lieve 
me, mister, when Rollins shoots he don't 
usually miss — not often. Take it from me, 
it wasn't no cold-blooded murder, he was 
that excited an' all. Anyway, w'en I seen 
Hamilton fallin', b'lieve me, I didn't think 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 291 

of nothin' but makin' a get-away ! I drops 
me gun, hops to me feet, an' makes tracks 
for River Street, an' I guess that's when 
this here Donaldson seen me, because he 
come after me right away. An* that's th' 
truth." 

Rollins filled his pipe from a well-used 
sack, tamped it down with meticulous care, 
lighted it carefully, and puffed deeply two 
or three times. When he spoke his voice 
was quiet and inquiring rather than 
bitter. 

"It looks like story-tellin' is th' most 
pop'lar indoor sport around here," he 
started slowly, choosing his words with 
evident care. "So it's up to me to have 
my innin's an' to explain how I know Har- 
tigan done it, and why I've been insisting 
on that all along. 

"To go back a little ways, y'll probably 
remember this mornin' when Carroll here 
says that maybe I know somethin' about 
th' case I ain't tellin'? Ych? Well, he 



294 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

if you shot from behind that bush, have 
struck in the ceiling yonder where Miss 
Duval's bullet hit* No, you didn't shoot 
Hartigan, Rollins." 

"I swear I did — that's the truth if I ever 
told it, Carroll. An' after I shot I beat 
it right down to headquarters, an' they 
just got th' news in there an' sent me 
up here wit' Hawkins an' Cartwright. 
What's wrong wit' that story?" 

"As a story it's a dandy, Rollins," re- 
turned Carroll calmly. "I congratulate 
you on it. But as the truth — ^nothing do- 
ing!" 

"I s'pose y' can prove it ain't th' truth, 
huh?" 

"Yes, certainly I can." 

"Do it, then!" 

"All right — ^how about this? Perhaps 
you did not know that we have down at 
the police station the man who shot 
Red Hartigan! His name is Frederick 
Badger." 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 295 

Rollins paled, but even then he did not 
lose his poise. 

"I can't be bluffed," he said belliger- 
ently. "Y' think rd b'lieve that?" 

"No, but a jury probably will. You 
see, this man Badger is a monomaniac, a 
lalf-wit. He went there to'kill Mr. Ham- 
ilton and actually tried to do it. Harti- 
gan switched off the lights and Badger 
fired from his place by the window — 
screened from you, by the way, by the ve- 
randa screen which had been let down dur- 
ing the afternoon. His bullet went in 
through the window, struck Hartigan on 
the wrist, and went on through the screen, 
making the hole that you claim Hartigan 
made with his bullet. And that's the lit- 
tle trump Fve been holding up my sleeve 
— I wanted to see just how you'd work 
your end of the case if you didn't know 
about Badger. 

''Remember this, Rollins. I had been 
looking for this burglary of yours. My 



296 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

plan was to let it go off just like you 
planned, and then make the whole thing 
public. The killing of Mr. Hamilton 
changed those plans considerably. 
You've always had a reputation for being 
hot-headed; a dozen times in your police 
career youVe been on the carpet for shoot- 
ing men without cause. Scammon's story 
sounds true; there's just one more link 
necessary — would you mind letting me sec 
your revolver?'' 

"Th' hell with you! I'll let you sec 
nothing!" 

"Don't be foolish, Rollins. It will take 
us about three seconds to get it from you 
forcibly. Better fork over." 

Rollins was trapped and he knew it. 
With a very bad grace, he handed his re- 
volver, butt first, to Carroll, and Carroll 
exhibited it to the others. It was a .38 
special with a broken butt plate. 

''Your revolver, Scammon?" 

The burglar nodded. 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 297 

^Tfes — ^I'd know it in a million/' 
"Good! And now, gentlemen, can't 
you see what happened? Miss Duval's 
bullet lodged in the ceiling, Mr. Harrel- 
son never fired. Badger shot Hartigan, 
and Hartigan never had a gun. Rollins, 
in a fit of fury — one of the kind for which 
he is notorious, and realizing that the crime 
could be fastened on any one of three 
others, killed Hamilton. 

"Then when Rollins was sent on the 
case he planted his own revolver, from 
which one shot had been fired, on Harti- 
gan. A great case against the man, don't 
you see. He kept the revolver Lefty 
Scammon had dropped. It's really rather 
simple after you've got the facts before 
you — although I admit freely, Rollins, 
that you had me completely fooled. I 
started out with the idea that you had a 
hand in it, and I lost that idea. It would 
have stayed lost, perhaps, if you had not 
insisted so stubbornly that Hartigan was 



298 SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 

the man who did it when I knew all the 
time that Hartigan's story must be true. 
And so, gentlemen," turning to the others, 
"I think that about ends our day's work. 
If you don't mind, Rollins, we'll slip the 
bracelets on you." 

Rollins held out his hands mildly and 
the handcuffs were slipped over his wrists. 

''Do you wish to confess?" questioned 
Carroll in his habitual kindly voice. 

Rollins smiled with grim humour. 

'Tve been in this business too long to 
confess to anything," he answered. 
"What you got against me you gotta 
prove!" 

"I guess we'll do that all right enough, 
Rollins. And now — let's call it a day. 
There are a few entries to be made on the 
blotter at headquarters." 

Sergeant Larry O'Brien turned on his 
cot, waked, yawned, and stretched himself 
luxuriously. His eye lighted on the im- 



SIX SECONDS OF DARKNESS 299 

mense figure of Patrolman Rafferty on the 
next cot. 

"There's wan thing Fm afther hopin'/' 
said Sergeant Larry O'Brien, "an' that 
is that there's somethin' doin' today. 
Things around here lately have been too 
slow. By the way, got an evenin' paper ^" 

Rafferty smiled. "Here's an extry." 

The flaring headlines burned themselves 
into the brain of Sergeant O'Brien, but he 
refused to be budged from his professional 
stolidity. 

"Never did like that guy Rollins, any- 
way," he said. "An' I'm right glad 
neither of them two kids is gonna be 
hanged. They're better off married!" 



THE END 



"Tfw BookM You Uks to Rnd 
aitk€ Pries You Uks to Fay* 



There Are Two Sides 
to Everything — 

— including the wrapper which covers 
every Grosser & Dunlap book. When 
you feel in the mood for a good ro- 
mance, re£er to the carefully selected list 
of modem fiction comprising most of 
the successes by prominent writers of 
the day which is printed on the back of 
every Grosset & Dunlap book wrapper. 

You will find more than five hundred 
titles to choose from — ^books for every 
mood and every taste and every pocket- 
book. 

Dont forget tb$ other side^ hut in case 
the wrapper is lost, write to the pablisbers 
for a complete catalog. 



There U a Grosset & Dunlap Book 
for €0€ry mood and for every tasto 



'*^ 



EMERSON HOUGH'S NOVELS 



■« It feM akHWiw kMta M MM. JUk ftr tmNt * DmIm'« M. 



THE COVERED WAGO N 

An eiHC atoiy of die Great West from which the fam* 
OH* iMcture was made. 

THE WAY OF A MAN 

A colorful romance of the pioneer West before the 
Civil War. 

THE SAGEBRUSHER 

An Eastern giA answers a matrimonial ad. and goes out 
West in the hiUs of Montana to find her mate. 

THE WAY OUT 

A romance of the feud districtof the Cumberland country. 

THE BROKEN GATE 



A story of broken social conventions and of a woman's 
determination to put the past behind her. 

THE WAY TO THE WEST 

Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett and Kit Carson figure in 
this story of the opening of the West 

HEARTS DESIRE 

The story of what happens when the railroad came to m 
little settlement in the far West 

THE PURCHASE PRICE 

A story of Kentucky during the dxys after the American 
Revolution. 

GROSSET & DUNLAP, Pubushbrs, NEW YORK 



GEORGE W. OGDEirS WESTERN NOTEU 



matM. A* fir tranM ft Dnla»^ M: 



THE BARON OF DIAMOND TAIL 

The Elk Mountain Cattle Co. had not paid a dividend in yean; 
so Bdgar Barrett, fresh from the naTT, was sent West to see wtait 
was wrong at the ranch. The tale of this tenderfoot outwitting tbe 
buckaroos at their own play will sweep you into the action oftUi 
salient western noveL 

THE BONDBOY 

Joe Newbolt, bound out by force of family conditions to work tot 
a number of Ymu** ^ accused of murder and circumstances are 
against him. His mouth is sealed; he cannot, as a ^^entleman, utter 
the words that would clear him. A dramatic, romantic tale of intense 
interest. 

CLAIM NUMBER ONE 

Dr. Warren Slavens drew daim number one, which entitled Uni 
to fhvt choice of rich lands on an Indian r e se r va tion in Wyoming. It 
meant a fortune ; but before he established his ownership he had a 
hard battle with crooks and politicians. 

THE DUKE OF CHIMNEY BUTTE 

When Jerxy Lambert, '*the Duke," attempts to safeguard tb* 
cattle ranch of vesta Philbrook from thieving neighbors, his work if 
appallingly handicapped because of Grace Kerr, one of tne chief ad* 
tators, ana a deadly enemy of Vesta's. A stirring tale of brave deect, 
gun-play and a love that shines above alL 

THE FLOCKMASTER OF POISON CREEK 

John Mackenzie trod the trail from Jasper to fhe great slieep 
country where fortunes were being maae by the flock-masters. 
Shepherding was not a peacef til pursuit in those bygone days. Ad- 
venture met him at every turn — tnere is a g^irl of course->men figlit 
their best fights for a woman— it is an epic of the sheeplands. 

THE LAND OF LAST CHANCE 

Jim Timberlake and Capt. David Scott waited with restksl 
thousands on the Oklahoma line for the si^^nal to dash across the 
border. How the dty of Victory arose overmght on the plains, how 
people savagely defended their claims against the **sooners; " how 
good men and bad played politics, makes a strong story of growth 
and American initiative. 

TRAIL'S END 

Ascalon was the end of the trail for tldrsty cowboys who gAve 
vent to their pent-up feelings without restraint. Calvin Morgan was 
not concerned with its wickedness until Seth Craddock's malevolence 
directed itself against him. He did not emerge from the maelstrom 
until he had obliterated every vestige of lawlessness, and assured 
himself of the safety of a certain dark-eyed girL 

A^k for CompleU fiee IM of G. & D. Popular Conrigkted FkSkm 

~- 

GROSSET &I>\mLk?, ?OTiu8HE»8, NEW YORK 



ACKSON GREGORrS NOVELS 



«• MM. Uk m traMtt * nmtmt M. 



[•HE EVERLASTING WHISPER 

TheMonrof a ilraaf man*t Unigsie ■fUMt wrage BatHre aacl 
kibMdof A bemifail firl t rageDeutioo from a tpofled duld ot wwiMi iMo 



iniflrii 

D ESERT VALLEY 

A coUege pf ofenor leS ool widi lui Hwifhlff to find gold. Thej bMI 



•BwlierwIwloMtliklieM^aBdbcooiMintwfadm AM(L An 

M^TO MAN 

Enckcwd with cDcmBiy cfirtHMtod* 9le?9 OBwndi hit nghti. How bs 
foa \m guM aad the gill he lored k the itoiy filled wtlh breedileH 



rHE BELLS OF SAN JUAN 

Dr. Virgink Page is forced to go widi die iheiitf on e nigjbt jomnrnf 
Ho the itrooghoUs ot e lewleH band. Thrilb and eicitement iw a ep the 
iftder along lo the end. 

tJDITH OF BLUE LAKE RANCH 

Jndith Saaford part owner of a cattle ranch reafizes she u beaigiobbed 
f her foreman. How, with the help of Bud Lee, she checkmates lre?or*t 
JieBie tIt^ fascBating readiDg. 

rHE SHORT CUT 

Wayne is suspected of killing his brother after a nolent quaneL Finan- 
il complications, TiUaias, a horse-race and beautiful Wanda, all go to make 
p a thnuBg romance. 

"HE JOYOUS TROUBLE MAKER 

A v^P^rter sett up housekeepbg dose to Beatrice's Raneh much to ksr 
lifrin. There is ''another man** who complicate matters^ but all tunm 
It as it should in this tale of romance and adventure. 

DCFEETFOUR 

Beatrice Waverly is robbed of $5,000 and suspicion fastens npoo Bock 
lioniton, but she soon realizes he is not guihj. Litentely rxritingi here is a 
sal story of the Great Far West. 

V OLF BREED 

No Luck Drennan had grovni bard tbroogb loss of faSdi m men he bad 



A woman hater and sharp of toooue, he fmds a match in Ygema 

rhose clever fencing wins the admiratioo and love of the ** Lone Wolf. 

jBOSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NeW YoRK 



PETER B. KYNE'S NOVELS 



«• MM. iUk t* ■iwiii * nmimr* mt 



TH E PRIDE OF PALO MAR 

When two strong men clash and the tmder-dog has Irish 
blood in his veins — there's a tale that Kyne can tell! And 
**tbit girl** is also very much in evidoioe. 

KINDRED OF THE DUST 

Donald McELay, son of Hector McKay, milBonaiTe hmh 
ber king, falls in love with ** Nan of the Sawdust Pile,** a 
charming girl who has been ostracized by her townsfolk. 

THE VALLE Y OF THE GIANTS 

The fight of the Cardigans, father and son, to hold the 
Valley c^ the Giants against treach^y. The reader finishes 
with a sense of having lived with big men and women in a 
big country. 

CAP Py RICKS 

The story of old Ci^^py Ricks and of Matt Peasley, the 
boy he tried to break because he knew the add test was 
good for his souL 

WEBSl ER : MAN'S MAN 

In a little Jim Crow Republic in Central America, a man 
and a woman, hailins^ from the " States," met up with a 
revolution and for a while adventures and excitement came 
so thi(^ and fast that their love afEair had to wait for a lull 
in the game. 

CAPTAIN SCRAGGS 

This sea yam recounts the adventures of three rapscal- 
I Bon sea-faring men — a Captain Scrages, owner of the greoi 
' vegetable freighter Maggie, Gibney i3ie mate and MoGuiE« 
ney tiie engineer. 

THE LONG CHANCE 

A story fresh from the heart of the West, of San Pasqual, 
a sun-baked desert town, of Harley P. Hennage, the best 

Knbler, the best and worst man of San Pasqual and of 
ely Donna. 
^ ■ - ■ 

Srossbt & DuNLAP, Publishers, Nbw Yoke 



EDGAR RICE BURROUGH'S 
NOVELS 

mtyUlmi yhmnmt Nate wn toU. ktk tor Qfwut 4 Dwiip't llit 

sTARZAN AND THE GOLDEN LION 

\ A tale of the African wilderness which appeals to all readers 
of fiction^'. .. 

TARZAN THE TERRIBLE 

Fardier toiHing adventurts of Tarzan while seeking his wife 
in Atac3u^.^>n^^ • 

TARZAN THE UNTAMED 

Tells of Tarzan*s return to the life of the ape-man in seeking 
vengeance for the loss of his wife and home, 

JUNGLE TALES OF TARZAN 

Records the many wonderful exploits by which Tarxan proves 
his rig^t to ape kingship. 

AT THE EARTH'S CORE 

An astonishing series of adventures In a world located inside 
of the Earth. I 

THE MUCKER 

The story of Billy Byrne— as extraordinary a character as the 
famous Tarzan. 

A PRINCESS OF MARS 

Forty-three million miles from the earth— a successbn of the 
wierdest and most astounding adventures in fiction. 

THE GODS OF MARS 

John Carter's adventures on Mars, where he fights the fero- 
cious ''plant men,** and defies Issus, the Goddess of Death. 

THE WARLORD OF MARS 

Old acquaintances, made in two other stories, reappear. Tars 
TarlcM, Tardos Mors and others. 

THUVIA, MAID OF MARS 

The story centers around the adventures of Carthoris, the sos ' 
of John Carter and Thnvia, daughter of a Martian Emperor, 

THE CHE^MEN OF MARS 

^ The adventures of Princess Tara in the land of headless men, 
creatures widi the power of detaching their heads from their 
bodies and replacing them at will ^ 

GROSSET & DUNLAP, Pubushers, NEW YORK 



JAMES OLIVER CURWOOD^S 

STORIES OF ADVENTURE 



m MM. iUk fir Imm ft Onlip't Itt 



THE COUNTRY BEYOND 

THE FLAMING FOREST 

THE VALLEY OF SILENT MEN 

THE RIVER'S END 

THE C30LDEN SNARE 

NOMADS OF THE NORTH 

KAZAN 

BAREE. SON OF KAZAN 

THE COURAGE OF CAPTAIN PLUM 

THE DANGER TRAIL 

THE HUNTED WOMAN 

THE FLOWER OF THE NORTH 

THE GRIZZLY KING 

ISOBEL 

THE WOLF HUNTERS 

THE GOLD HUNTERS 

THE COURAGE OF MARGE O'DOONE 

BACK TO GOD'S COUNTRY 



Aak for Complete free list of G. & D. Popular CoKfrighUd Ftdkm 

GROSSET & DUNLAP, Pubushers, NEW YORK 



ZAN E GREY^S NOVELS 

May bt Ind whtrevtr iNioks «• sold. Atk for Qraotot ft Omlap'o Bit 

TO THE LAST MAN 

THE MYSTERIOUS RIDER 

THE MAN OP THE FOREST 

THE DESERT OP WHEAT 

THE U. P. TRAIL 

WILDFIRE 

*^^ HE BORDER LEGION 

THE RAINBOW TRAIL 

THE HERITAGE OF THE DESERT 

RIDERS OP THE PURPLE SAGE 

THE LIGHT OP WESTERN STARS 

THE LAST OP THE PLAINSMEN 

THE LONE STAR RANGER 

DESERT GOLD 

BETTY ZANE 

• • 4> • • * • 

I^AST OF THE GREAT SCOUTS 

The life story of " Buffalo Bill •' by his sister Helen Codjr 
Wetmore, with Foreword and conclusion by Zane Grey. 

ZANE GREY'S BOOKS FOR BOYS 

KEN WARD IN THE JUNGLE 
THE YOUNG LION HUNTER 

THE YOUNG FORESTER 

THE YOUNG PITCHER 

THE SHORT STOP 

THE RED-HEADED OUTFIELD AND OTHER 
BASEBALL STORIES 

Grosset & DuNLAP, Publishers, New York 

SBBBB^B^iBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBaBa^BBBiBHBBBBBiaHB 



FLORENCE L. BARCLAYS 

NOVELS 



THE WHITE LADIES OF WORCESTER 

A novel ot tbe 12tli Century. ,Tlie heroine, belieraig she 
had lost her lover, enters m con ve nt He retam% and in- 
teresting develppments follow. 

THE UPAS TREE 

A love story <^ rare charm. It deals with a soocessful 
author and his wife. 

THROUGH THE POSTERN GATE 

The story ci a seven day courtship, in which the dis- 
crq;»ncyin ages vanished into insignificance be£ore the 
convincing demonstration of abiding love. 

THE ROSARY 

The story of a young artist who is romted to love beaubf 
above all else in uie world, but who, when blinded throng 
an accident, gains life's greatest happiness. A rare story 
of the great passion of two real people superbly capable 6t 
love, its sacrifices and its eiiceeding reward. 

THE MISTRESS OF SHENSTONE 

The lovely youne Lady Ingleby, recently widowed by the 
death of a husband who never understood her, meets a fine, 
clean yovmg chap who is ignorant of her title and they fall 
deeply in fove with each other. When he learns her real 
identity a situation of singular power is developed. 

THE BROKEN HALO 

The story of a voung man whose relu^kms belief was 
shattered in childhood and restored to him bytibelhtle 
white lady, many years older than himself, to whom be is 
passionately devoted. 

THE FOLLOWING OF THE STAR 

The story of a young missionary, who, about to start for 
Africa, marries wealthv Diana Rivers, in order to heh) her 
fulfill iht conditions ot her uncle's will, and how they finally 
come to love each other and are reunited after experiences 
that soften and purify. 

Gkosset & DuNiAP, Publishers^ New York 



H 



ETHEL M. DELL'S NOVELS 



May >t ha< wlwftiwr fcoofct wn wH. ilifc fir Qfwut ic Paiiii'o ■<: 

CHARLES REX 

The struggle against a hidden secret and the loYC of m 
ttrong man and a courageous woman. 

THE TOP OF THE WORLD 

Tells of the path which leads at last to the '* top of dit 
world,** which it is given to few seekers to find. 

THE LAMP IN THE DESERT 

Tells of the lamp of love that continues to shine dinmgli 
all sorts of tribulations to final happiness. 

GREATHEART 

The story of a cripple whose deformed body conceab 
a noble souL 

THE HUNDREDTH CHANCE 

A hero who worked to win even when there was on|y 
** a hundredth chance." 

THE SWINDLER 

The story of a '*bad man's" soul revealed by a 
woman's faith. 

THE TIDAL WAVE 

Tales of love and of women who learned to know die 
true from the false. 

THE SAFETY CURTAIN 

A very vivid love story of India. The volume alto 

contains four other long stories of equal interest 

■ ■ I ■^^— — 1 1 — — ^^ 

Grosset & DuNLAP, Publishers, New York 



ELEANOR H. PORTER'S NOVELS 

May bt hai viMnvtr tatks «• mM. A* far ttruait ft Dwlat's M: 



JUST DAVID 

The ule of a loveable boy and the place he comet tti 
fill in the hearts of the gruff farmer folk to whoee caM Iw 
is left. 

THE ROAD TO UNDERSTANDING 

A compelling romance of love and marriage. 

OH, MONEY ! MONEY ! 

Stanley Fukon, a wealthy bachelor, to test the dispon- 
tions of his relatives, sends them each a check for |I100,» 
000, and then as plain John Smith comes among them to 
watch the result of his experiment 

SIX S TAR RANCH 

A wholesome story of a chib of six girls and their sum- 
mer on Six Star Ranch. 

DAWN 

The story of a blind boy whose courage leads him 
through the gulf of despair into a final victory gained bj 
dedicating his life to the service of blind soldiers. 

ACROSS THE YEARS 

Short stories of our own kind and of our own people 
Contains some of the best writing Mrs. Porter has dona 

THE TANGLED THREADS 

In these stories we find the concentrated charm an/ 
tenderness of all her other books. 

THE TIE THAT BINDS 

Intensely human stories told with Mrs. Porter^ s won* 
derfui talent for warm and vivid character drawing. 

Gbosset & DuNLAP, Publishers, New Yoss 



"STORM COUNTRY" BOOKS BY 

GRACE MILLER WHITE 

■ m 

Itay bt Ind whtrevar books aro toM. JM tor Qraotot ft Dniap't list 



JUDY 



OF ROGUES' HARBOR 



Judy's untutored ideas of God, her love of wild things 
her faith in life are quite as inspiring as those of Tess. 
Her faith and sincerity catch at your heart strings. This, 
book has all of the mystery and tense action of the other: 
Storm Country books. r 

TESS OF THE STORM COUNTRY 

It was as TesSy beautiful, wild, impetuous, that Mary 
Pickford made her reputation as a motion picture actress. 
How love acts upon a temperament such as hers — ^a tem- 
perament that makes a woman an angel or an outcast, ac- 
cording to the character of the man she loves — ^is the 
theme of the story, 

THE SEgRET OF THE STORM COUNTRY 

The sequel to '* Tess of the Storm Country," with the 
same wild background, with its half-gypsy life of the squat- 
ters—tempestuous, passionate, brooding. Tess learns the 
*' secret '' of her birth and finds happiness and love through 
her boundless faith in life. 

FROM THE VALLEY OF THE MISSING 

A haunting story with its scene laid near the oountiy 
familiar to r^ers of '' Tess of the Storm Country.'* 

ROSE O* PARADISE 

'* Jinny " Singleton, wild, lovely, lonely, but with a pae* 
sionate jreaming for music, grows up in the house of Lafe^ 
Grandoken^ a crippled cobbler of the Storm Country, Her 
romance b full of power and glory and tenderness. 

AJk forComfUlt fttt IM c/G. & D. Pbpdaf CopSfrtfM Fldkik 
GftOSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NeW YoBX 



THE NOVELS OF 

GRACE LIVINGSTON HILL 

(MRS. LUTZ) 



BEST MAN, THE 

CLOUDY JEWEL 

DAWN OF THE MORNING 

ENCHANTED BARN, THE 

EXIT BETTY 

FINDING OF JASPER HOLT. THE 

GIRL FROM MONTANA. THE 

LO, MICHAEL I 

MAN OF THE DESERT, THE 

MARCIA SCHUYLER 

MIRANDA 

MYSTERY OF MARY, THE 

OBSESSION OF VICTORIA GRACEN. THE 

PHOEBE DEANE 

RED SIGNAL, THE 

SEARCH, THE 

TRYST, THE 

VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS, A 

WITNESS, THE 



Aak far ComfUU fite IM pf G. & D. PoptUaf Cop^g l^ ^ U i FieUan 

Grosset & DuNLAp, Publishers, *^Nbw York